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Researchers randomly selected 118 children with atopic dermatitis to take a probiotic supplement of Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133 or a placebo (no probiotic), twice daily for twelve weeks. The children ranged in age from 1 to 13 years, and all continued to receive regular medical treatment to manage their eczema.
A standardized atopic dermatitis scoring system was used to evaluate the severity of the skin condition before, during, and after the 12-week study. Blood measures of immune system activity were collected during the study as well, including total eosinophil count, and levels of interferon and interleukin, two substances produced by the immune system, which help regulate its activity.
Higher levels of all three measures can indicate more activity in a part of the immune system that is linked with worsening atopic dermatitis. These blood measures often increase during flare-ups of the skin condition.
Compared with the children who received the placebo, those who received the probiotic had significant improvements in their atopic dermatitis score. They had significantly decreased levels of total eosinophils, interferon, and interleukin as well.
This study suggests that supplementing with probiotic bacteria may help ease the severity of pediatric eczema. It’s important to note that the children taking probiotics didn’t use any less steroid medication than the children taking a placebo. Still, objective blood measures of immune system activity did change for the better, suggesting there may be benefit to supplementing these bacteria.
Our tips can help you ponder the pros and cons of adding probiotics into your little ones’ routine:
(Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2012; 23:667–73)