Eczema affects 3.5% of the global population, with peak prevalence during infancy. Eczema has no cure, but probiotics have been suggested as a preventative measure.
To comprehensively analyze the impact of prenatal and postnatal probiotic supplementation on the prevention of infantile and childhood eczema.
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and PubMed were searched for randomized controlled trials regarding probiotic usage and eczema development from 1945 to 2013. Participants included were 7 years old or younger with probiotic exposure in utero or below 6 months of age and who was not diagnosed previously.
27 publications describing 16 studies assessing 10 probiotics in 2,797 participants met our criterion. The pooled relative risk of all the studies, 0.74 (95% confidence interval 0.67, 0.82), indicated that probiotic supplementation in the first several years of life did have a significant impact on development of eczema. During evaluation of the studies, heterogeneity of terms and definitions for similar primary and secondary outcomes were identified.
The use of probiotic supplements during pregnancy and/or during infancy creates a statistically significant decline in the incidence of eczema. The heterogeneity of terms and definitions regarding eczema is the major limitation of these studies.