Here’s another “optimizing” ingredient to add to your grocery list: Probiotics. In a Norwegian study published in the British Journal of Dermatology, researchers learned that mothers who consumed milk with a probiotic supplement during pregnancy and breastfeeding cut the chances of their child having eczema in half.
We are always hearing about how to optimize the health of our babies with what we ingest during pregnancy; it can get a little hectic trying to squeeze in the Omega 3s, Vitamin D, iron and calcium with all the pregnancy food warnings and aversions.
But this study caught my attention because I’m kind of intrigued by probiotics in general. And I have friends with eczema and they hate it. Babies with eczema, no fun at all.
Probiotics are a “good bacteria” that live in the colon and help with digestion. According to the World Health Org, they are “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”
They can help with all kinds of digestion/colon issues; most commonly probiotics are found in yogurt with “live and active cultures.” You can get them in capsule form and they are considered safe in pregnancy. They can help prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotic treatment-antibiotics fry up a lot of bacteria in the guts, even the good ones. The probiotics replace those lost. Women sometimes take probiotics to help prevent yeast infections. Research has shown they help with mineral absorption, reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve immune function and help with lactose intolerance. They’re huge in Europe, here not so much.
Previous studies have shown that giving probiotics to children may help prevent eczema, but this is the first study to look at the mom’s influence. “Our study is the first to show that certain probiotic bacteria given to the mother during pregnancy and breast-feeding prevents eczema,” said Christian Dotterud, who worked on the study.
“In Norway, there has been some skepticism about giving infants probiotics. Therefore, it is preferable that mothers take probiotics, not children,” he added, “We believe that probiotic bacteria affects breast milk composition in a positive way.”
I’ll be interested to see if mom’s probiotic diet has any effect on allergies and asthma– researchers will be following up when children when they are six. At age two there was no evidence that mom’s probiotic consumption helped with her baby’s chances of getting asthma and/or allergies.
photo: maz dot nu/flickr