Probiotics in late infancy reduce the incidence of eczema: A randomized controlled trial

Background: Allergic diseases are common and represent a considerable health and
economic burden worldwide. We aimed to examine the effect of a combination of
two probiotic strains administered in late infancy and early childhood on the
development of allergic diseases and sensitization.
Methods: In this double‐blind, placebo‐controlled intervention trial, participants
were randomized to receive a daily mixture of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and
Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis or placebo—starting prior to attending day
care. The intervention period was 6 months, and the parents answered web‐based
questionnaires on allergic symptoms and doctor’s diagnosed allergic disease
monthly. IgE was measured at baseline and follow‐up.
Results: A total of 290 participants were randomized: 144 in the probiotic group and
146 in the placebo group. Mean age at intervention start was 10.1 months. At fol‐
low‐up (mean age 16.1 months), the incidence of eczema was 4.2% in the probiotic
group and 11.5% in the placebo group (P = 0.036). The incidence of asthma and con‐
junctivitis did not differ between groups, and no children presented with rhinitis.
Sensitization was equal in the two groups at intervention start (7.5% and 9.5%, re‐
spectively), and two children in each group were sensitized during the intervention.
Conclusions: We observed a significantly lower incidence of eczema in the probiotic
group compared to the placebo group. The probiotics were administered in late in‐
fancy—prior to attending day care—suggesting a broader window of opportunity
using probiotics in the prevention of eczema. The incidence of asthma, rhinitis, con‐
junctivitis, and sensitization did not differ.