Probiotics are microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, that are thought to improve health. While too much bacteria can make you sick, too little can make you more vulnerable to illnesses. While scientists are just beginning to understand all benefits of probiotics, previous research has found that ingestion of some probiotics by children may actually prevent eczema, a condition marked by itchy, irritated and swollen skin.
But new research indicates that the battle against eczema can begin before baby is even born. When consumed by women during and after pregnancy, probiotics were found to reduce incidents of eczema in their children.
A double-blind study, conducted by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and published in the British Journal of Dermatology, followed 415 pregnant women and their children for a period of two years. Beginning at 36 weeks in their pregnancies and continuing for up to three months after birth, half of the pregnant were given daily doses of probiotic milk while the other half were given a placebo.
Throughout the study, the children were regularly checked for eczema as well as asthma and allergy at the age of two. While the probiotics didn’t seem to have any impact on the incidents of asthma or allergies, the kids whose mothers drank the probiotic milk had 40% fewer cases of eczema. And those who did develop the condition has less severe cases than those whose mothers were given the placebo.
A 40% decrease in eczema cases is pretty huge considering that this is a skin condition that affects about 20% of babies and young children. But because some doctors don’t favor giving probiotics to infants, the best way to deliver it after birth is via breast milk. But, as with any supplement taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, check with your doctor before adding probiotics to your diet.
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