Probiotics in Pregnancy May Prevent Baby’s Eczema

Guest BloggerClinical Corner, Microbiome Environment

Eczema in infants is painful to see and even worse for them.

Soaring in numbers, this allergic skin disease is caused by genetic defects and foreign substances, often food. But surprisingly, it’s not only the diet of the baby which figures. Probiotics in the mother’s diet before birth may prevent some cases.

A new large meta-analysis conducted at the Imperial College in London by Vanessa Garcia-Larsen and colleagues sliced through 433 studies to find connections.

Their work appears in PLOS in February 2018: Diet during pregnancy and infancy and risk of allergic or autoimmune disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

It turns out those pregnant women given probiotics in the 36 to 38 week gestation period as well as the initial post-partum period reduced eczema by 22%, not an insignificant number. These supplements were either single or multiple organisms, given as capsules, powder, or part of a drink or infant formula milk, at a dose of 1 to 10 billion colony-forming units per day.

The full report, with a detailed description of the methodology used and all review findings, is available on the Food Standards Agency website.

“…our findings suggest that while infant diet may influence immune development through allergen-specific mechanisms, maternal diet during prenatal life and lactation may have broader effects on the developing immune system.”

This study lengthens the chain begun by other promising results with eczema:

  • A meta-analysis revealed modest effects of probiotics in preventing eczema whether used during pregnancy or in early life of the child.
  • A review of 29 randomized trials showed that probiotics reduced the risk of eczema when used by women during the last trimester of pregnancy though the certainty was low.
  • Reported in a 2014 study , strains of bifidobacterium given prenatally to 130 mothers beginning 1 month prior to delivery and postnatally to their infants for 6 months, lowered risk of eczema during the infant’s first 18 months of life.

Take-away: probiotic supplementation may be beneficial in eczema though strain and dose are still fluid.

Other reading on eczema:

Nutrition and Allergic Diseases


Overview of Reviews The prevention of eczema in infants and children: an overview of Cochrane and non-Cochrane reviews.

Maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding reduces the risk of eczema in the infant.

Probiotics and prebiotics in preventing food allergy and eczema.