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Friday, 26 April, 2002, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Baby recruits fight eczema battle
Baby feeding
Babies will take a probiotic supplement
Babies with eczema are taking part in a project to test whether supplements containing probiotic gut bacteria can help to ease their condition.

Childhood eczema has increased dramatically over the last 40 years and previous research suggests probiotic supplements may provide some form of protection.

Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester is looking to recruit 200 babies to take part in the project.


We hope to show that probiotics are a good, natural alternative or additional treatment for eczema

Dr Claudia Gore, study co-ordinator
They will be divided into groups in a study where some babies will receive naturally occurring probiotic bacteria and others will be given a placebo.

Probiotic or "friendly" bacteria live in human stomachs in varying quantities to make up a rich variety of intestinal flora.

They guard the body against harmful bacteria, yeast and viruses and stimulate the function of the entire digestive system.

The Wythenshawe Probiotics in Atopic Dermatitis in Infancy (PADI) programme will focus on babies up to six months old, with eczema.

During the three-month long study, the infants will be given either a probiotic or placebo compound and their eczema will be monitored every four weeks.

Environmental causes

They will be called back when they are a year old to re-assess their eczema condition.

Paediatrician and study co-ordinator Dr Claudia Gore said: "Something has changed in the last 40 years because eczema has increased so rapidly.

"It must be something in the environment, but we don't know what it is.

"We hope to show that probiotics are a good, natural alternative or additional treatment for eczema."

In the 1960's one in 10 children had eczema, but today it is one in five.

A study carried out in Finland found that giving probiotic bacteria to a mother prior to the birth and then to the baby postnatally, halved the rate of eczema in children at risk of developing the condition.

All the study participants had a family history of allergic disease such as eczema or asthma - making their children more likely to develop such illnesses.

The study found less cases of eczema among children receiving the bacteria.

Mothers who want their babies to take participate in the trial should contact the Wythenshawe hospital on 0161 291 5036 or 07970 543012 or e-mail the research team at cgore@fs1.with.man.ac.uk.

See also:

29 Sep 99 | Health
Asthma risk for big babies
11 Oct 99 | Health
Farm animals 'reduce allergies'
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