Each year in the western world, eczema gets more common. We know that breastfeeding can prevent eczema, and that mothers’ avoiding certain allergic foods can further decrease the risk. Another powerful way to prevent eczema was reported in a study in the January 2002 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
In this study, mothers were given either a placebo or probiotics (beneficial bacteria, like those found in yogurt) during the last four weeks of pregnancy and while nursing. Breast milk from mothers who got the probiotics contained more than twice as much transforming growth factor ß, a key stabilizer of the immune system. Their babies were followed for two years and had dramatically less eczema than those who only got the placebo. In the placebo group, more than 3 times as many kids developed eczema!