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Reduction of Infant Eczema Linked to Probiotics

A new study from The Netherlands shows that probiotic supplements may reduce the risk of developing eczema and boost the immune system for infants.

The double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial was published in the May 2009 issue of the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Eczema is a chronic, relapsing, itchy rash which affects around 10-20% of all infants. About half of those affected by this rash grow out of it by the age of 15.

Eczema is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is thought to be due to delayed development of the immune system.

Researchers from University Medical Center in Utrecht, Wageningen University, and Sint Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, recruited 157 pregnant women with a family history of eczema for the study.

In the last two weeks of pregnancy, half the women were given supplements containing one billion colony forming units (CFU) of three different strands of probiotics: Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactococcus lactis. The remaining women were given a placebo.

The infants then received the same supplements or placebo for the first year of their life.

During the first three months of life, there was a 58% reduction in eczema among the group taking the probiotic supplement compared to the placebo group. After three months, there was no significant difference.

Fecal samples of the infants also showed higher levels of probiotics, proving bioavailability.

The researchers note that administering probiotics to pregnant women may help reduce eczema by encouraging the early colonization of intestinal microflora in the fetus.  They also suggest that the changes in gut health may enhance development of the immune system.

Probiotics have also been shown to support immune and digestive health, combat disease causing bad bacteria, and even ease anxiety.

If you are looking to boost good bacteria levels inside your body, try consuming more foods like yogurt and cultured milk. If this proves difficult, you may want to incorporate a quality probiotic supplement into your diet.

The best products have several different bacteria strains (different strains have different benefits) and several billion bacteria cells. Also make sure that the product you choose is packaged to block light, air, and moisture, which can easily kill probiotics.

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