Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007 Jan;119(1):192-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2006.09.009. Epub 2006 Oct 23.

Abstract

Background: The increase in allergic diseases is attributed to a relative lack of microbial stimulation of the infantile gut immune system. Probiotics, live health-promoting microbes, might offer such stimulation.

Objective: We studied the effect of a mixture of 4 probiotic bacterial strains along with prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in preventing allergic diseases.

Methods: We randomized 1223 pregnant women carrying high-risk children to use a probiotic preparation or a placebo for 2 to 4 weeks before delivery. Their infants received the same probiotics plus galacto-oligosaccharides (n = 461) or a placebo (n = 464) for 6 months. At 2 years, we evaluated the cumulative incidence of allergic diseases (food allergy, eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis) and IgE sensitization (positive skin prick test response or serum antigen-specific IgE level >0.7 kU/L). Fecal bacteria were analyzed during treatment and at age 2 years.

Results: Probiotic treatment compared with placebo showed no effect on the cumulative incidence of allergic diseases but tended to reduce IgE-associated (atopic) diseases (odds ratio [OR], 0.71; 95% CI, 0.50-1.00; P = .052). Probiotic treatment reduced eczema (OR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.55-0.98; P = .035) and atopic eczema (OR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.46-0.95; P = .025). Lactobacilli and bifidobacteria more frequently (P < .001) colonized the guts of supplemented infants.

Conclusion: Probiotic treatment showed no effect on the incidence of all allergic diseases by age 2 years but significantly prevented eczema and especially atopic eczema. The results suggest an inverse association between atopic diseases and colonization of the gut by probiotics.

Clinical implications: The prevention of atopic eczema in high-risk infants is possible by modulating the infant's gut microbiota with probiotics and prebiotics.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bifidobacterium* / isolation & purification
  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eczema / prevention & control*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus* / isolation & purification
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Propionibacterium* / isolation & purification

Substances

  • Oligosaccharides