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Probiotics and prebiotics in preventing food allergy and eczema

Kuitunen, Mikael

Current Opinion in Allergy and Clinical Immunology: June 2013 - Volume 13 - Issue 3 - p 280–286
doi: 10.1097/ACI.0b013e328360ed66
FOOD ALLERGY: Edited by Alessandro Fiocchi and Julie Wang

Purpose of review To describe the current literature on clinical trials of probiotics for eczema and food allergy prevention in view of recent new approaches and long-term follow-ups.

Recent findings Attempting allergy prevention by probiotic administration has been most successful when assessing atopic eczema, the most prevalent allergic disease at an early age. More than half of the published studies demonstrate a decrease in eczema prevalence until 2 years, whereas the remaining studies fail to show an effect. Effects have been most consistent with combined prenatal and direct postnatal supplementation of the infant and appear strain-specific, with Lactobacillus rhamnosus most often showing an effect. Prenatal-only and postnatal-only studies often fail to show effects. Recent long-time follow-ups have shown promising but not consistent results. A very recent follow-up of a large well conducted cohort shows that long-term effects of eczema prevention persists until age 4 and prevention of respiratory allergies might also be possible.

Summary Prevention of eczema with probiotics seem to work until age 2 years and extended effects until 4 years have been shown in high-risk for allergy cohorts. Effects are strain-specific, with L. rhamnosus showing the most consistent effects especially when combining pre and postnatal administration.

Helsinki University Central Hospital, Children's Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence to Mikael Kuitunen, MD, PhD, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Children's Hospital, P.O. Box 281, 00029 Helsinki, Finland. Tel: +358504274975; e-mail:

Copyright © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.