Although it is widely known that probiotics have anti-inflammatory effects and can alleviate clinical symptoms of atopic dermatitis (AD) in children, the effects of probiotics on AD in children have long been controversial.
A group of researchers from China, led by Feina Wang, department of pediatrics, People’s Hospital of Wanning, set out to evaluate the clinical efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of AD in children by a meta-analysis method.
In their study, researchers searched randomized controlled trials on probiotics in the prevention of AD in children performed at home and abroad. A total of 786 studies were identified; after reading the full texts and excluding those that did not match search and inclusion criteria, 37 articles were identified for the meta-analysis, with a total of 2986 patients in the experimental group receiving probiotics and 3145 patients in the control group.
Results of the meta-analysis determined that probiotics were superior to placebo in the prevention of AD, while the sub-group meta-analysis showed that the clinical efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of AD was more significant in mothers and infants, before and after childbirth.
“The meta-analysis showed that probiotics can effectively prevent the occurrence of AD,” Wang said. “Further subgroup analysis showed that taking rhamnose-lactobacillus probiotics and mixed bacteria before and after delivery could significantly prevent the incidence of AD.”
While past studies have reported that probiotics have anti-inflammatory effects and may reduce gastrointestinal inflammation and the clinical symptoms of AD, this new study revealed that when given in adequate amounts, probiotics can exert beneficial effects not only in the gastrointestinal tract but also in the gut-brain-skin axis.
Additionally, the authors noted that the prevention effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus and probiotics with mixed flora on AD is superior, which may be related to the reduction of intestinal microorganisms such as bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in the intestines of children with AD.
Further subgroup analysis of probiotic dosage and supplementation time was not performed in the study, but it’s something that the authors believe should be explored later.
The researchers concluded that while probiotic intervention may provide an effective means of preventing AD in children, due to the heterogeneity of the results of the study, follow-up studies are needed for true confirmation.
“It cannot be ignored that there is heterogeneity in this study, which may stem from differences in the general characteristics (age, gender, family factors, etc.) of different research subjects, as well as differences in the dosage of probiotics used,” the authors said. “Therefore, further research is needed to explore the preventive effect of probiotic intervention on pediatric specific dermatitis in the future.”
Still, the results from the meta-analysis showed that probiotics may be an effective means of preventing AD, and the study should provide a certain degree of basis for the prevention of AD in clinical practice.