Probiotic milk consumption in pregnancy and infancy and subsequent childhood allergic diseases

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2014 Jan;133(1):165-71.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.07.032. Epub 2013 Sep 10.


Background: Whether probiotics, which can influence the microbiome, prevent infant eczema or allergic disease remains an open question. Most studies have focused on high-risk infants.

Objectives: We sought to assess whether consumption of probiotic milk products protects against atopic eczema, rhinoconjunctivitis, and asthma in early childhood in a large population-based pregnancy cohort (the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study).

Methods: We examined associations between consumption of probiotic milk products in pregnancy and infancy with questionnaire-reported atopic eczema, rhinoconjunctivitis, and asthma in 40,614 children. Relative risks (RRs) were calculated by using general linear models adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: Consumption of probiotic milk in pregnancy was associated with a slightly reduced relative risk (RR) of atopic eczema at 6 months (adjusted RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.89-0.99) and of rhinoconjunctivitis between 18 and 36 months (adjusted RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78-0.98) compared with no consumption during pregnancy. Maternal history of allergic disease did not notably influence the associations. When both the mother (during pregnancy) and infant (after 6 months of age) had consumed probiotic milk, the adjusted RR of rhinoconjunctivitis was 0.80 (95% CI, 0.68-0.93) relative to no consumption by either. Probiotic milk consumption was not associated with asthma at 36 months.

Conclusions: In this population-based cohort consumption of probiotic milk products was related to a reduced incidence of atopic eczema and rhinoconjunctivitis, but no association was seen for incidence of asthma by 36 months of age.

Keywords: Allergy; BMI; Body mass index; FFQ; Food frequency questionnaire; MJ; Megajoules; MoBa; Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study; RR; Relative risk; asthma; eczema; microbiome; probiotics; rhinoconjunctivitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / prevention & control
  • Cattle
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conjunctivitis / epidemiology*
  • Conjunctivitis / prevention & control
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Milk
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Probiotics / adverse effects
  • Rhinitis / epidemiology*
  • Rhinitis / prevention & control
  • Young Adult