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Prebiotic Formula Cuts Risk of Atopic Dermatitis in Infants

Formula containing oligosaccharides benefits infants at high risk

THURSDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- A prebiotic infant formula containing oligosaccharides may lower the incidence of atopic dermatitis in children at high risk of developing the condition, according to a report published online July 27 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Guenther Boehm, M.D., from Numico Research in Friedrichsdorf, Germany, and colleagues randomized 102 infants to receive a hydrolyzed protein formula with a prebiotic mixture of galacto- and long chain fructo-oligosaccharides, and 104 infants to receive another hydrolyzed protein formula with maltodextrine as a placebo. The infants were at risk of developing atopy due to a parental history of atopic eczema, allergic rhinitis or asthma. Fecal flora was examined in 98 of the infants.

The researchers found that 23.1 percent of infants fed maltodextrine formula developed atopic dermatitis, compared with only 9.8 percent of infants fed a prebiotic formula. Dermatitis severity was similar in both groups. Infants fed the prebiotic formula had a significantly higher number of fecal bifidobacteria but similar numbers of lactobacilli, according to the study.

"Results show…a beneficial effect of prebiotics on the development of atopic dermatitis in a high-risk population of infants," the authors write, suggesting that "oligosaccharides modulate postnatal immune development by altering bowel flora and have a potential role in primary allergy prevention during infancy."

The study was partially funded by Numico Research.

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