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Impact of nutrition supplementation on atopic dermatitis in infants and young children

Posted:  Thursday, August 11, 2016

Influence of nutrition supplementation on atopic dermatitis in children aged below 3 years of age

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the skin that may affect up to 20% of infants and young children. Supplementation with nutrients such as probiotics and customised formulas may be useful in preventing the development of AD; it may also ameliorate the severity of AD. A systematic review published in the journal JAMA Dermatology focused on the effects of nutrient supplements on AD in children below 3 years of age.

Foolad et al. conducted a systematic review of clinical trials and cohort studies that investigated the role of nutrient supplementation with probiotics, prebiotics, formula, or fatty acids in the prevention of AD and the reduction of the severity of AD in children younger than 3 years of age. The literature search of the MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Latin American and Caribbean Health Science Literature (LILACS) databases yielded 21 articles. The 21 studies included data on 6859 infants and pregnant or breastfeeding women who received supplements and 4134 infants and mothers, who acted as controls.

Majority of the studies confirmed the beneficial effect of nutrient supplementation in preventing the development of AD (11 out of 17 studies) and reducing the severity of AD (5 out of 6 studies). Supplementation with a single probiotic, namely Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, was beneficial in preventing AD in infants at risk for AD; it also prevented the development of AD in childhood. Supplementing gamma-linolenic acid to infants whose mothers were suffering from atopic disease reduced the severity of AD. Supplementation with black currant seed oil, which is a rich source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, was effective in preventing AD symptoms in infants when administered at an early age. Supplementing partially hydrolysed whey formula and extensively hydrolysed casein formula, especially in at-risk infants, was also effective in preventing the occurence and development of AD.

A drawback of the systematic review was the use of studies with heterogeneous methodologies, which led to divergent results and variable conclusions. Overall, the study highlighted the benefits of nutrient supplementation namely the prevention and reduction of the severity of AD in infants and young children. Additional research on the underlying mechanism of action of nutritional supplementation in AD is required.

News Source – Foolad N, Brezinski EA, Chase EP, et al. Effect of nutrient supplementation on atopic dermatitis in children: a systematic review of probiotics, prebiotics, formula, and fatty acids. JAMA dermatology. 2013 Mar 1; 149 (3):350–5.