Baby soft, smooth skin in young children could be partly the result of what their mothers ate during pregnancy and nursing, according to a study reported in the May 31, 2003 issue of The Lancet. Beneficial bacteria, such as those found in active culture yogurt, acidophilus milk, or probiotic supplements appear to be a gentle way to provide lasting protection against eczema.
For four years, investigators in this study have followed more than 100 children who were at high risk to develop eczema. All of them had a strong family history of eczema. Their pregnant mothers were given capsules that either contained active cultures of beneficial, probiotic bacteria or an empty placebo. For the first six months after delivery, the nursing mothers continued to take these capsules. Bottle-fed babies got either the active cultures or the placebo in their bottles. The results were striking.
Throughout infancy, toddlerhood, and the preschool years – up to the 4th birthday, so far — those children who had been in the probiotic group were significantly less likely to develop eczema. There was a 43 percent reduction in eczema over the placebo group.
Probiotics have been shown to benefit the developing immune system in a number of ways, from preventing and treating infections to preventing allergic reactions such as eczema.