The Swansea Baby Trial

Overview

The major allergic or atopic disorders of atopic dermatitis (eczema), asthma, atopic rhinitis (hayfever), and significant food allergies affect between 15 and 40% of children in the UK.

Most children develop allergic sensitivity in the first 2 years of life, and if a child is diagnosed with atopic eczema during this time then there is a greater than 50% likelihood of progressing to develop asthma by the age of 12.

The ‘hygiene theory’ has been proposed as the reason for the increased incidence of allergy over the past 50 years. This theory postulates that clean environments together with the extensive use of disinfectants and antibiotics, results in children being less exposed to the ‘microbial world’ than they were previously.

Exposure to sufficient levels of the right types of microflora appears to be critical in steering the immune system away from becoming ‘allergic’. Probiotics are a safe mechanism of providing the necessary early exposure to the microflora, and potentially offer a route of significantly reducing the incidence of allergy.

Over the past 10 years several studies have shown that probiotics can potentially reduce the incidence of allergy in infants.

The aim of the Swansea Baby Trial

This large study aimed to confirm that probiotics given during infancy can prevent allergy in children and hence potentially reduce the lifelong incidence of the condition.

How the Swansea Baby Trial was set up

  • 454 mother /baby pairs took part in the trial.
  • Half of the mothers took the 10 billion of the Lab4b probiotic per day during the last trimester and then gave the same probiotic to their newborn babies every day for 6 months following birth.
  • Half the mothers and babies took the dummy preparation.
  • Skin prick tests were carried out on the both probiotic and ‘dummy capsule’ infants to detect allergic reaction, the most common allergens including cow’s milk, house dust mite and pollen.

The results

  • The babies given Lab4b were 57% less likely to develop allergic eczema than those receiving the dummy product.
  • The babies given Lab4b were 44% less likely to develop allergic reaction to the common allergens including pollen, cow’s milk, egg, and house dust mite.