UTRECHT, The Netherlands—A probiotic bacteria combination demonstrated a preventive effect on the incidence of eczema in high-risk children, which seemed to be sustained during the first two years of life in a recent Dutch study (Allergy. 2009) (DOI:10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02021.x). In the double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, a mixture of probiotic bacteria selected by in-vitro experiments (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactococcus lactis; Ecologic® Panda) was prenatally administered to mothers of high-risk children (i.e. positive family history of allergic disease) and to their offspring for the first 12 months of life.
Parental-reported eczema during the first three months of life was significantly lower in the intervention group compared with placebo, 6/50 versus 15/52 (P=0.035). After three months, the incidence of eczema was similar in both groups. Cumulative incidence of parental-reported eczema at one and two years was 23/50 (intervention) versus 31/48 (placebo) and 27 (intervention) versus 34 (placebo), respectively. The number needed to treat was 5.9 at age 3 and 12 months and 6.7 at 2 years old. The intervention group was significantly more frequently colonized with higher numbers of L. lactis. Furthermore, at 3 months old, in vitro production of IL-5 was decreased in the probiotic-group compared with the placebo-group. In addition to previous studies, the preventive effect appears to be established within the first three months of life.