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Probiotics During Pregnancy Reduce Atopic Eczema Risk in Child

TURKU, Finland--Probiotic administration during pregnancy seems to offer a woman's unborn child protection against atopic eczema beyond infancy, according to a research letter in the May 31 issue of The Lancet (361, 9372: 2003) (www.thelancet.com). Researchers from the University of Turku and the National Public Health Institute in the same city discovered perinatal administration of Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG (L. rhamnosus GG) reduced the incidence of atopic eczema, an itchy skin disease usually associated with asthma and hay fever, in at-risk children during the first two years of life. To investigate whether the protection lasted beyond infancy, researchers diagnosed atopic disease at four years.

Fourteen of 53 children born to women receiving L. rhamnosus GG developed atopic eczema compared to 25 of 54 children born to women receiving placebo. A skin prick test administered among the children demonstrated reactivity was similar in both groups: 10 of 50 children previously given L. rhamnosus GG compared with nine of 50 given placebo tested positive. Researchers concluded their results would seem to suggest the protective effect of L. rhamnosus GG against atopic eczema extends beyond infancy.

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