Background: Probiotic supplementation in early life may be effective for preventing eczema. Previous studies have suggested that prenatal administration may be particularly important for beneficial effects.
Objective: We examined whether prenatal treatment with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) can influence the risk of eczema during infancy.
Methods: We recruited 250 pregnant women carrying infants at high risk of allergic disease to a randomized controlled trial of probiotic supplementation (LGG 1.8 × 10(10) cfu/day) from 36 weeks gestation until delivery. Infants were assessed during their first year for eczema or allergic sensitization. Immunological investigations were performed in a subgroup. Umbilical cord blood was examined for dendritic cell and regulatory T cell numbers and production of TGFβ, IL-10, IL-12, IL-13, IFN-γ and TNFα. Maternal breast milk was examined for total IgA, soluble CD14 and TGFβ.
Results: Prenatal probiotic treatment was not associated with reduced risk of eczema (34% probiotic, 39% placebo; RR 0.88; 95% CI 0.63, 1.22) or IgE-associated eczema (18% probiotic, 19% placebo; RR 0.94; 95% CI 0.53, 1.68). Prenatal probiotic treatment was not associated with any change in cord blood immune markers, but was associated with decreased breast milk soluble CD14 and IgA levels.
Conclusions: Prenatal treatment with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG was not sufficient for preventing eczema. If probiotics are effective for preventing eczema, then a postnatal component to treatment or possibly an alternative probiotic strain is necessary.
© 2010 John Wiley & Sons A/S.