Beneficial bacteria may prevent allergies. The April 7, 2001 issue of the prestigious journal, The Lancet, contains a study of 132 children who were at high risk of developing allergies because of their family histories. For a few weeks before the babies were born, some of the expectant mothers were given capsules of the same probiotic bacteria found in some yogurts and cheeses. This continued for 6 months after delivery for nursing mothers. Bottle-fed babies in the treatment group received the bacteria directly. Those who received the probiotics through either route were only half as likely to develop eczema as their peers. We still have much to learn about how probiotics work, but this appears to be a dramatic reduction in the risk of eczema — a powerful possibility for prevention.