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16-02-2012 | Gynaecology | Article

Probiotic has protective effect against eczema, rhinoconjunctivitis in early childhood

Abstract

Free abstract

MedWire News: Research shows that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 (HN001), which halves the prevalence of eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis at 2 years of age, continues to have a protective effective until the age of 4 years.

Kristin Wickens (University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand) and colleagues previously demonstrated that maternal supplementation with HN001 from 35 weeks' gestation until 6 months after birth, followed by infant supplementation until the age of 2 years, halves the cumulative prevalence of eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis in high-risk infants.

Writing in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, Wickens and team now report the 4-year findings from the New Zealand birth cohort study after HN001 supplementation was stopped at 2 years.

In total, 425 (90%) of the original 474 children participating in the study took part in the follow up. In the original study, 159 mothers and children were assigned to the placebo group, 157 to the HN001 group, and 158 to take Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis HN019 (HN019), an alternative probiotic.

Compared with those in the placebo group, children in the HN001 group had a 33% lower cumulative prevalence of eczema and a 62% lower cumulative prevalence of rhinoconjunctivitis at 4 years of age.

In addition, fewer children in the HN001 group had a SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) score of 10 or more than in the placebo group, and atopic sensitization was also lower in the HN001 group, but these reductions were not statistically significant.

Of note, HN019 supplementation had no effect on infant eczema or rhinoconjunctivitis prevalence at 2 or at 4 years.

"Our study has shown that the use of HN001 in the first 2 years of life may continue to protect against eczema to age 4 years, 2 years after the cessation of probiotic supplementation," write Wickens et al.

"This is the first study to show a protective effect against the development of rhinitis symptoms but, given that this has not been shown in other studies, more trials with large sample sizes and long follow-up periods are needed to further clarify this effect."

The team concludes: "The precise pathways for effects on allergic disease remain elusive and require more work, including the possibility that effects are mediated via epigenetic mechanisms."

By Helen Albert

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