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Probiotics May Protect Infants From Allergies

Posted:  Thursday, August 29, 2013

A new meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics suggest prenatal and postnatal administration of probiotics may reduce immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels in infants and protect against sensitization to hereditary allergies but may not protect against asthma or wheezing.

Researchers at the University of Miami conducted a meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled trials to assess the effects of probiotic supplementation on atopic sensitization and asthma/wheeze prevention in children.

Probiotics were effective in reducing total immunoglobulin E (IgE) (mean reduction: -7.59 U/mL [95% confidence interval (CI): -14.96 to -0.22]; P = .044). Meta-regression showed that the reduction in IgE was more pronounced with longer follow-up. Probiotics significantly reduced the risk of atopic sensitization when administered prenatally (relative risk: 0.88 [95% CI: 0.78 to 0.99]; P = .035 for positive result on the skin prick test and/or elevated specific IgE to common allergens) and postnatally (relative risk: 0.86 [95% CI: 0.75 to 0.98]; P = .027 for positive result on skin prick test). Administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus, compared with other strains, was associated with an increased risk of atopic sensitization (P = .002). Probiotics did not significantly reduce asthma/wheeze (relative risk: 0.96 [95% CI: 0.85 to 1.07]).

Prenatal and/or early-life probiotic administration reduces the risk of atopic sensitization and decreases the total IgE level in children but may not reduce the risk of asthma/wheeze. Follow-up duration and strain significantly modified these effects. Future trials for asthma prevention should carefully select probiotic strain and consider longer follow-up.

Probiotic Administration in Early Life, Atopy, and Asthma: A Meta-analysis of Clinical Trials Nancy Elazab, Angelico Mendy, Janvier Gasana,Edgar R. Vieira, Annabelle Quizon, and Erick Forno Pediatrics peds.2013-0246; published ahead of print August 19, 2013

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