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Probiotics and the prevention of allergy

SASKIA VAN HEMERT1*, LAETITIA NIERS2, GER RIJKERS3,4
*Corresponding author
1. Winclove Bio Industries BV, Hulstweg 11, Amsterdam, 1032 LB, The Netherlands
2. University Medical Center Utrecht, Department of Pediatrics, P.O. Box 85500, Utrecht, 3508 GA, The Netherlands
3. University Medical Center Utrecht, Department of Surgery, P.O. Box 85500, Utrecht, 3508 GA, The Netherlands
4. Laboratory of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, St. Antonius Hospital, P.O. Box 2500, 3430 EM Nieuwegein, The Netherlands

Abstract

The prevalence of allergy has risen during the past decades. This could be caused, in part, by a change in microbial exposure and the establishment of the gastrointestinal microbiota early in life, important for the development of the immune system.Administration of probiotics, contributing to a balanced microbiota, might be useful to decrease the risk of allergy. Clinical studies withdifferent probiotics to prevent eczema have produced differential results, and the strain-specific properties of probiotic bacteria areevident. Considerations such as good gastrointestinal survival of the probiotic bacteria, and starting the probiotic supplementation during pregnancy appear to be important to lower eczema incidence. Probiotic products and protocols to prevent eczema should be specifically developed for this application, as for example Ecologic®PANDA. Despite advances in the prevention of eczema, published data thus far do not support the use of probiotics for preventing the progression of other allergic diseases, such as asthma and rhinitis.Studies for these applications are ongoing.