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Should probiotics be a part of the treatment in children with atopic dermatitis?

Children and eczema: Presentation of recent scientific literature

This is part of the first series of medical report round-ups presenting some of the latest research on dermatology. We’ve pulled together the findings following information on a recent study of the effect of probiotics in children with atopic dermatitis.

  • Probiotics show benefits in children with atopic dermatitis. Effect depends on type of the bacteria called Lactobacillus. A positive effect of the bacteria Lactobacillus (well known from dairy products) has been shown in children with atopic dermatitis. The effect depended on which type of bacteria favoring a mix of probiotics.

  • Children that take probiotics experience less symptoms. When doctors evaluated the symptoms of children getting probiotics, a lower severity score (SCORAD) was seen in this group of children compared to children not taking probiotics.

  • No effect is shown in infants. The beneficial effect of probiotics has only been shown in children/teenagers aged 1-18 years.

  • Effect varies according to geography. When comparing children from different continents, the positive effect from probiotics showed to be significant in children in Asia and not in Europe. This might be due to different dietary structures and gut bacteria compositions.

  • These were the findings from a recently published study on the effect of probiotics in children with AD.  The findings are based on cross-sectional analyses of 13 trials with a total of 1070 children included. The goal was to investigate whether the intake of probiotics affected the symptoms and severity of the eczema. Overall, the studies are not easy to compare in terms of the children and study design leading to the conclusion, that caution is needed when generalising these results.  

    So to summarise…

    Studies show a link between the intake of probiotics in children with atopic dermatitis favouring a mix of probiotics. As for now, there is not enough evidence to say that probiotics should be a part of standard treatment or not. There are definitely some trends indicating positive effects however, further research is needed.

    Title of publication: Probiotics for the Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis in Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

    Date and journal: Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, September 2017

    Link to article: Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2017 Sep 6;7:392

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