Study finds 'no overall benefits' of probiotic strains for eczema

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Probiotic strains Probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus

A new study conducted with Danisco probiotics has yielded mixed results over their benefits for eczema in children, although researchers suggest that larger studies could help identify more definitive benefits.

Initial results of the study, which was conducted at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, revealed “no overall beneficial effect” ​of two of Danisco’s probiotic strains on Atopic Dermatitis (AD) in children. However, a post-hoc analysis did confirm a “significant reduction in the severity”​ of AD in the group fed Bifidobacterium animalis ​subsp. lactis ​Bi-07.

“Our results are in agreement with recent published reviews which have not been able to finally establish enough evidence to support the use of probiotics for treatment of AD in children,”​ write the researchers in the International Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics.

“There is evidence that probiotic treatment can lower the increased intestinal permeability associated with eczema. However, as probiotics are ineffective in treating AD the decrease in intestinal permeability associated with their use seems to be insufficient. Thus it is concluded that probiotic treatment does not reduce the need for other eczema treatment such as topical corticosteroids.”

Probiotics for AD

AD, also known as eczema, is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It is a common inflammatory skin disorder, which occurs in early childhood and may persists into adult life. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists it affects between 10 to 20 per cent of all infants, but almost half of these kids will 'grow out' of eczema between the ages of five and 15.

Current treatments focus on alleviating symptoms, but probiotics have been studied for over 20 years for their therapeutic benefits for the condition, with numerous studies identifying significant benefits.

Study design

The current study followed a double-blind placebo controlled design and tested the two strains - Lactobacillus acidophilus ​NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis ​subsp. lactis ​Bi-07.

Fifty children between the ages of seven and 24 months were recruited to participate. All children had been diagnosed with AD. They were randomized into three groups to receive a daily dose of either NCFM (1010 CFU/day), Bi-07 (1010 CFU/day), or placebo for eight weeks.

Researchers measured the severity of AD using the standardized SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) index. They also evaluated immunological activity, clinical effect, and faecal calprotectin.

No overall benefits

They found no overall beneficial effects of either of the probiotic strains on the degree of AD measured by SCORAD index and no effect on inflammatory markers or faecal calprotectin.

However, a post-hoc analysis showed a significant reduction in severity of AD in the Bi-07 group, leading them to suggest that “possible beneficial effects of this probiotic strain could be of interest.”

“Further and larger probiotic AD treatment studies would be helpful in clarifying whether specific probiotic strains, such as Bi-07 or other strains could have a role in treating AD,”​ they write.

Source: Probiotics to young children with atopic dermatitis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.
International Journal of Probiotics and Prebiotics,​ Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 53-60, 2010.
Authors: R. Gøbel, N. Larsen, C. Mølgaard, M. Jakobsen and K.F. Michaelsen

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