Prebiotics and probiotics: the prevention and reduction in severity of atopic dermatitis in children

Benef Microbes. 2014 Jun 1;5(2):151-60. doi: 10.3920/BM2013.0034.


The purpose of this review was to identify whether supplementation with prebiotics and/or probiotics help prevent the development or reduce the severity of atopic dermatitis in children less than three years of age. Since 1997, immunostimulatory supplements, such as prebiotics and probiotics, have been investigated. Various supplementations include probiotics (single strain or mix), probiotics with formula, probiotics mix with prebiotics, and prebiotics. In this narrative review, we examined 13 key articles on prebiotics and/or probiotics, and their effects on infant atopic dermatitis. Among the selected studies, a total of 3,023 participants received supplements or placebo. Eight out of the 13 (61.5%) studies reported a significant effect on the prevention of atopic dermatitis after supplementation with probiotics and/or prebiotics. Five out of the 13 (38.5%) studies indicated significant reduction in the severity of atopic dermatitis after supplementation. Based on the available studies, supplementation with certain probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG) appears to be an effective approach for the prevention and reduction in severity of atopic dermatitis. A mix of specific probiotic strains prevented atopic dermatitis among infants. Based on studies with prebiotics, there was a long-term reduction in the incidence of atopic dermatitis. Supplementation with prebiotics and probiotics appears useful for the reduction in the severity of atopic dermatitis. Additional interventional studies exploring prebiotics and probiotics are imperative before recommendations can be made.

Keywords: atopic dermatitis; children; prebiotics; prevention; probiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / pathology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / prevention & control*
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / administration & dosage*
  • Incidence
  • Placebos / administration & dosage
  • Prebiotics*
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Placebos
  • Prebiotics