Cutting edge research led by University of Otago researcher Dr Kristin Wickens, is showing that probiotic use halves the risk in the prevention of eczema among high-risk infants.
Dr. Wickens & her colleagues at the university’s Wellington campus & at Auckland, where research has been led by Auckland University paediatrician Prof Ed Mitchell.
The study showed one probiotic, involving a bacterium named Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, lowered the risk of developing eczema by the age of two, by about half, among young kids who were at high risk of developing allergic disease.
Probiotics are microorganisms that prevent disease & protect their host. The probiotic found to be successful was developed by Fonterra.
It increases the population of the effective bacterium in the human gut – where it already occurs naturally, as it does in yoghurt.
A second probiotic was also tested but proved unsuccessful. Researchers say that if childhood eczema could be successfully prevented, there could also be larger potential benefits in halting an “allergic march” towards developing other conditions, such as hay fever & asthma.
Professor Gerald Tannock, of the Otago microbiology & immunology department in Dunedin, has undertaken bacterial analysis for the Otago-led research.
Professor Tannock said, earlier small studies in Finland had shown positive effects of probiotic use in eczema, but the Otago-led research involved a much larger study and was internationally significant.
6 April 2012