Being a new mother is difficult enough but dealing with infantile eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, just adds to the stress. Eczema is as a red dry itchy rash that commonly occurs in children between the ages of two and six months. The rash causes small bumps to erupt on the scalp, forehead or cheeks and can spread to the arms and legs. Many treatments can soothe the uncomfortable rash but a recent study where mothers took probiotics during pregnancy shows hope that there may be a way to head off eczema in infants before it starts.
The study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, showed that mothers who took probiotics during their pregnancy and during the time they breastfed had children with a 40 percent decrease in the incidence of eczema. Those children who did develop eczema had a notable decrease in the severity of their condition.
The study took place in Norway as part of a Prevention of Allergy Among Children in Trondheim research project. The researchers monitored 415 pregnant women and their children up until the age of two years old. The women in the test group were given probiotic milk starting at 36 weeks of their pregnancy and the placebo group was given regular milk. All the milk tasted the same and was provided in unmarked cartons.
The researchers also measured whether the use of probiotics helped with allergies or asthma but the two groups of children did not show any significance differences. It was concluded that probiotics do not have a preventive effect on these health problems but the researchers intend to continue monitoring the children until they are six years old to see if there may be a future benefit.
"Our study is the first to show that certain probiotic bacteria given to the mother during pregnancy and breast-feeding prevents eczema," says researcher Christian Kvikne Dotterud, as reported in sciencedaily.com. Previous studies had shown some benefit in the treatment of eczema when consumed directly by children but this study shows that a benefit can be passed from a mother to her child.