Reduced occurrence of early atopic dermatitis because of immunoactive prebiotics among low-atopy-risk infants

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010 Oct;126(4):791-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.07.022. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


Background: Most infants developing atopic dermatitis have a low risk for atopy. Primary prevention of atopic dermatitis is difficult.

Objective: To assess the effect of supplementation of an infant and follow-on formula with prebiotic and immunoactive oligosaccharides on the occurrence of atopic dermatitis in the first year of life.

Methods: Healthy term infants from 5 European countries with low atopy risk were recruited before the age of 8 weeks, either having started with formula feeding or being on full breast-feeding (breast-feeding group). Formula-fed infants were randomized to feeding with a regular formula containing a specific mixture of neutral oligosaccharides and pectin-derived acidic oligosaccharides (prebiotic formula group) or regular formula without oligosaccharides (control formula group).

Results: A total of 414 infants were randomized to the prebiotic group and 416 infants to the control group. A total of 300 infants were followed in the breast-feeding group. Up to the first birthday, atopic dermatitis occurred in significantly fewer infants from the prebiotic group (5.7%) than from the control group (9.7%; P = .04). The cumulative incidence of atopic dermatitis in the prebiotic group was in the low range of the breast-feeding group (7.3%). In a Cox regression model, the rate of atopic dermatitis was significantly lower by 44% in the prebiotic group versus the control group (P = .04). The number needed to prevent 1 case of atopic dermatitis by supplementation of prebiotics was 25 infants.

Conclusion: Formula supplementation with a specific mixture of oligosaccharides was effective as primary prevention of atopic dermatitis in low atopy risk infants.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant Formula
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Oligosaccharides / administration & dosage*
  • Prebiotics*
  • Primary Prevention / methods
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oligosaccharides
  • Prebiotics