Allergy prevention by lactic acid bacteria

Mothers who eat lactic acid bacteria during pregnancy and lactation significantly reduce the risk of allergies to their babies. Because probiotics help effectively in the prevention of allergies. At birth, a newborn's gastrointestinal system is still sterile. The colonization by bacteria takes place immediately after birth. The faster and more sustainable a balanced balance, the faster the independent immune defense of babies gets going.

Lactic acid bacteria are among these first colonizers of the intestinal flora. The harmlessness and favorable influence of lactic acid bacteria, as they occur or are added in many yoghurt and milk products (bifidus milk, lactobacilli), is considered proven.

Use probiotics in a targeted manner

For the first time, Finnish scientists at Turku University Hospital tested whether it is possible to use the influence of these so-called probiotics specifically to prevent allergies. Since essential functions of the immune system are located in the intestine, the physicians suggested that early treatment of the intestinal flora with lactic acid bacteria could reduce the onset of allergic diseases in at-risk children. And this already by a preventive treatment before birth.

Allergies are often inherited

Because allergies are often inherited, researchers selected volunteers from high-risk families for the study, where either mothers or first-degree relatives had allergies. Between two and four weeks before birth, the pregnant women were given two daily capsules that either contained specific lactic acid bacteria (Lactobacillus GG) or looked identical but were without an active ingredient (placebo).

Breastfeeding mothers continued to receive the capsules after birth. Children who were not breastfed got their probiotic bacteria dissolved in a little water by spoon.

Both types of administration showed similar effects: In the diaper contents of breastfed and non-breastfed children, the researchers counted a similar number of beneficial germs.

Evaluation shows long-term effect

At the age of two, of the 159 children, 46 had an allergic skin rash. Six children also had asthma, including one allergic rhinitis.

In the evaluation, only half as many cases were found in the group of children who had received probiotic germs than in the group that received a placebo.

Only 23 percent of Lactobacillus children suffered from allergy, compared to 46 percent in placebo children. This difference remained constant even after another medical exam at the age of four.

The risk of allergy drops to less than half

A second Finnish study confirmed this result. Taking probiotics reduces the risk of allergies to less than half. The mechanism of action of the milk bacteria is based on repression: The researchers assume that the rapid colonization of the intestine with beneficial bacteria reduces the negative effects of harmful intestinal bacteria and thus promotes a healthy development of the immune system.


  • Kalliomäki M et al .: "Probiotics and prevention of atopic disease: 4-year follow-up of a randomized placebo-controlled trial", Lancet; 31.5.2003 (Val. 361).
  • Rautava S et al: "Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant" J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2002; 109 (1): 119-21.
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