No effects of probiotics on atopic dermatitis in infancy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial


M. L. Brouwer, Department of Paediatrics, Division of Paediatric Pulmonology, University Medical Center Groningen, Beatrix Children's Hospital, PO Box 30.001, 9700 RB Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:


Background Studies have been performed suggesting that administration of probiotics may have therapeutic and/or preventive benefits in the development of sensitization and atopic disease, particularly in infants with atopic dermatitis (AD).

Objective The purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical and immunological effects of supplementation of a hydrolysed formula with two probiotic strains of bacteria on symptoms of AD in infancy.

Methods We conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. After 4–6 weeks of baseline and double-blind, placebo-controlled challenges for diagnosis of cow's milk allergy (CMA), infants less than 5 months old with AD received a hydrolysed whey-based formula as placebo (n=17), or supplemented with either Lactobacillus rhamnosus (n=17) or Lactobacillus GG (n=16) for 3 months. Before, during and after intervention, the clinical severity of AD was evaluated using SCORing index Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD). Allergic sensitization was evaluated by measurement of total IgE and a panel of food-specific IgEs as well as skin prick testing for cow's milk. Inflammatory parameters were blood eosinophils, eosinophil protein X in urine, fecal α-1-antitrypsin and production of IL-4, IL-5 and IFN-γ by peripheral blood mononuclear cells after polyclonal stimulation.

Results No statistically significant effects of probiotic supplementation on SCORAD, sensitization, inflammatory parameters or cytokine production between groups were found. Only four infants were diagnosed with CMA.

Conclusion We found no clinical or immunological effect of the probiotic bacteria used in infants with AD. Our results indicate that oral supplementation with these probiotic bacterial strains will not have a significant impact on the symptoms of infantile AD.