Probiotics for Prevention of Atopy and Food Hypersensitivity in Early Childhood: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Feb;95(8):e2562. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000002562.


Most studies investigated probiotics on food hypersensitivity, not on oral food challenge confirmed food allergy in children. The authors systematically reviewed the literature to investigate whether probiotic supplementation prenatally and/or postnatally could reduce the risk of atopy and food hypersensitivity in young children.PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and 4 main Chinese literature databases (Wan Fang, VIP, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, and SinoMed) were searched for randomized controlled trials regarding the effect of probiotics on the prevention of allergy in children. The last search was conducted on July 11, 2015.Seventeen trials involving 2947 infants were included. The first follow-up studies were analyzed. Pooled analysis indicated that probiotics administered prenatally and postnatally could reduce the risk of atopy (relative risk [RR] 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.66-0.92; I = 0%), especially when administered prenatally to pregnant mother and postnatally to child (RR 0.71; 95% CI 0.57-0.89; I = 0%), and the risk of food hypersensitivity (RR 0.77; 95% CI 0.61-0.98; I = 0%). When probiotics were administered either only prenatally or only postnatally, no effects of probiotics on atopy and food hypersensitivity were observed.Probiotics administered prenatally and postnatally appears to be a feasible way to prevent atopy and food hypersensitivity in young children. The long-term effects of probiotics, however, remain to be defined in the follow-up of existing trials. Still, studies on probiotics and confirmed food allergy, rather than surrogate measure of food hypersensitivity, are warranted.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / prevention & control*
  • Infant
  • Pregnancy
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic