We think of them as digestive aids, but the beneficial bacteria we call probiotics have a profound effect on the skin as well. Although most people, including many physicians, don’t realise it, 80 percent of the immune system is located in the digestive tract, where beneficial bacteria are key players. In fact, the underlying cause of many health problems is an imbalance of intestinal bacteria.
According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, eczema affects between 10 and 20 percent of all infants, resulting in red, itchy skin patches or rashes. Three out of four children with eczema go on to develop asthma or hay fever.
There is a strong connection between eczema and gut bacteria. In 2001, researchers found that infants receiving probiotic supplements were half as likely to develop eczema. A 2008 study discovered that children with a limited variety of intestinal bacteria one week after birth were more likely to develop eczema by the age of 18 months, while a 2009 study found that daily supplements of probiotic foods may reduce the risk of eczema in children by 58 percent.
A new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology shows that probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding significantly reduces the risk of infant eczema.
Source: “Maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding reduces the risk of eczema in the infant,” by S. Rautava, et al. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 Dec130(6):1355-60.
Source: “Probiotics Reduce Infant Skin Problems”, Well Being Journal, September/October 2013 p 35