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Probiotics for Allergy in Infancy

Probiotics for Allergy in Infancy

Allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction mediated by immunologic mechanisms or commonly named body defenses. Its prevalence in children has risen over the last decades and has been attributed to changes in environmental factors. The so-called ‘’hygiene hypothesis’’ suggests that a lack of exposure to microbial stimulus early in childhood is a major factor involved in this trend.

Intestinal Microflora

Recently, the role of intestinal microflora has been emphasized in the maintenance of normal gut barrier function and development of an immune status which induce a tolerance. Epidemiological studies have shown that children with atopic diseases (allergic inhalant skin disease) have a different intestinal flora compared to healthy children. Indeed, lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are found more commonly in the composition of the intestinal flora of nonallergic children. These findings suggest that certain gut microbes modulate immunological cells (balance the response of defense cells), leading to the suppression of allergic disorders. So, the use of probiotic to enhance presence of some bacteria in the intestinal microbiota is found to correlate with protection against atopy, thereby shaping the immune response of the host, especially in infancy.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Furthermore, the effect of a prebiotic on the incidence of atopic dermatitis has been also investigated. Studies have shown for the first time a beneficial effect of prebiotics on its development: arabinogalactan can modulate postnatal immune development by altering bowel flora and has demonstrated a potential role in primary allergy prevention during infancy.

There is encouraging evidence that specific synbiotics (probiotics with prebiotic) can become valuable tools in the prevention and management of allergic diseases.

By Sandrine Briatte, B. Sc. Biochemistry, MSc Biology
Taken from Healthy Directions, August/September 2010


Kalliomaki M, Isaulauri E. rôle of intestinal flora in the developpement of allergy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol, 2003; 3(1) : 15-20.
He F, Ouwehand AC, Isaulauri E et al. Comparison of mucosal adhesion and species identification of bifidobacteria isolated from healthy and allergic infants. FEMS Imm Med Microbiol. 2001; 30:43-47.
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