News article

Probiotics reduce the risk of atopy and food hypersensitivity in early childhood

Posted:  Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Impact of probiotics in prevention of atopy and food hypersensitivity in early childhood

Childhood allergy and its treatment with probiotics have been the focus of scientific research. However, there has been conflicting evidence over the impact of probiotic on food allergy. A new study published in the journal Medicine focused on the role of administering probiotics prenatally and/or postnatally in reducing the risk of atopy and food hypersensitivity in young children.

Zhang et al. conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trails on probiotic supplementation for the prevention of childhood allergy. Literature search of the PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and 4 Chinese literature databases yielded 1352 articles. Seventeen randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials conducted in Europe, Asia, New Zealand, and Australia were used for the meta-analysis.

Analysis of the data indicated that the beneficial effects of probiotics were observed when administered both prenatally and postnatally. Atopic sensitisation was prevented when probiotics were supplemented prenatally to the pregnant mother and postnatally to the child. Nine trials on food sensitisation data involving 1506 children indicated that probiotics did not affect food sensitisation when administered only prenatally to pregnant women or only postnatally to infants, but a significant effect was seen when probiotics were administered both prenatally and postnatally.

This study had some drawbacks. The selected trials had different follow-up periods, population characteristics, different probiotic organisms, probiotic dosage, and length of intervention. The subgroup analysis undertaken in the study might have been subject to errors due to the small sample size. Since the selected studies had a follow-up period of 1 to 3 years, the long-term effects of probiotics on atopy and food sensitivity could not be determined.

The study demonstrated the benefits of probiotics in reducing the risk of atopy and food sensitivity in young children when administered prenatally to the mother and postnatally to the infant. Further research on various probiotic strains, probiotic dosage, duration of intervention, and longer follow-up studies are required.

News source – Zhang GQ, Hu HJ, Liu CY, Zhang Q, Shakya S, Li ZY. Probiotics for Prevention of Atopy and Food Hypersensitivity in Early Childhood: A PRISMA–Compliant Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Medicine. 2016 Feb; 95(8).