Objective: The efficacy of probiotics and/or prebiotics for preventing eczema in infants remains unclear. This meta-analysis evaluated published studies on pro/prebiotics for eczema prevention, investigating bacterial strain efficacy and changes to the allergy status of the children involved.
Methods: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials were analysed, irrespective of bacterial strains used in the pro/prebiotics. Studies of pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants receiving pro/prebiotics were included. All infant participants were assessed within 2 years of birth. Incidences of eczema and systemic sensitization were measured by weighted relative risk ratios (RRR).
Results: The 14 studies on probiotics had a pooled RRR of 0.69 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.62, 0.78). Three studies on prebiotic consumption showed a RRR of 0.80 (95% CI: 0.54, 1.18). One study of mixed pro/prebiotic (synbiotic) strains found a RRR ratio of 0.81 (95% CI: 0.66, 0.99). No consistent sensitization changes were found. Only the combination of nonspore lactobacilli and bifidobacteria reduced the incidence of eczema.
Conclusion: This meta-analysis found that probiotics or synbiotics may reduce the incidence of eczema in infants aged <2 years. Systemic sensitization did not change following probiotic administration.
Keywords: Eczema prevention; infant immune system; meta-analysis; prebiotic; probiotic; synbiotic.