Finnish Study Shows Link

Pregnant and breastfeeding moms who take probiotics may reduce their babies’ chances of developing eczema, study finds.

Mother bathing her baby

Allergic moms, take note -- probiotics during pregnancy and breastfeeding may lead to fewer instances of eczema in babies, Finnish researchers found.

Eczema and allergies

Eczema is an itchy skin condition that tends to affect people who have a history of allergies -- or their parents do. And by itchy, I really mean that it can be maddening, and in the worst cases, it can lead to infection or other serious problems. When my third child was an infant, I noticed raw patches on her inner wrists and flew to the doctor -- the diagnosis was eczema, which I had never heard of before, and we were given a topical steroid cream to use.

She cleared up by the spring and had issues each winter, but each year her problems were milder until they disappeared -- at age 9, she hasn’t had eczema for a few years. Neither her father nor I have a history of eczema, but we both have various allergies and I have a history of asthma.

The study

A group of researchers in Finland followed 241 pregnant women who had a history of allergies. Two types of probiotics were given two groups of the women, and a third group was given a placebo. They were given the probiotics (or the placebo) during the last two months of pregnancy and during the first two months of breastfeeding.

They found that 71 percent of the babies in the placebo group experienced eczema at least once, compared to 29 percent of the babies in the probiotics groups.

As far as other allergies, the studies showed that there was no difference in the two groups and their chances of developing an allergy once the children passed their second birthdays.

The research shows promising results but those involved caution that more studies need to be done in order to reach an absolute conclusion about the connection, but probiotics will not hurt a pregnant or nursing mother -- nor her baby -- and it’s an easy step to take.

More on allergies

Preventing food allergies in babies and children
Study shows link between antibiotics and allergies, asthma
Protect kids from holiday allergies

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