Can You Prevent Allergies During Pregnancy?
Allergies are strongly influenced by genetics. Did you know that a child has a 50% chance of having allergies their mom or dad have allergies; this increases up to 75% if both parents have allergies? Because of the strong influence of genes, many women with allergies ask me, “what can I do to prevent allergies in my baby?”
Some believe that the diversity of bacteria living in our guts (our microbiome) influence the development of allergic disease (asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis). They hypothesis that these bacteria “teach” our immune systems how to differentiate safe from non-safe. Changes to these bacteria may lead to dysfunctioning inmmune systems and thereby the development of allergies. Using probiotics, the most popular being Lactobacillus, during and after pregnancy potentially can alter the development of allergies and asthma.
Probiotics in the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim, a group of researchers in Norway, wanted to look more into these question.
Can Probiotics in Pregnancy Prevent the Development of Allergic Disease?
The Probiotics in the Prevention of Allergy among Children in Trondheim (ProPACT) study just released the follow up to their original study started in 2003. They followed 415 pregnant women’s children from age 3 months to 6 years. Moms were randomized to get milk with and without probiotics from 36 weeks gestation to 3 months after delivery.
Can Probiotics Prevent Allergic Disease?
- Researchers found that at 2 years of age, children who’s
mom’s had received the milk fortified with probiotics had less eczema (OR 0.51,
95 % CI 0.30 – 0.87, p = 0.013).
- At 2, there was no impact on
asthma, allergic sensitization or allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis
- Follow up by questionnaire and exam at 6 years, 81 and 82 children (in the milk and milk with probiotic groups respectively) were re-assessed for the development of eczema, allergic sensitization asthma and allergic rhinoconjunctivitis.
What did They Find Out?
- At age 6 there was a trend towards a reduction in eczema in school age children, but it was not statistically significant.
What’s the Bottom Line?
- Perinatal supplementation
with probiotics may prevent the
onset of eczema, but has no effect on the development of asthma, allergic
sensitization and allergic rhinitis/conjunctivitis.
- The microbiome may have a
role in the development and prevention of eczema.
- We still have a lot to learn about prevention of allergic disease. Stay tuned to learn more about the microbiome and allergies.
Want to read the full article? Perinatal Probiotic Supplementation in the Prevention of Allergy Related Disease: 6 Year Follow Up of a Randomised Controlled Trial
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