London, Apr 26 : A new study has found that if pregnant mothers and infants are exposed to probiotic bacteria, it can result in triggering the growth of the immune system, and thus lead to prevention of allergies.
When one takes a dose of antibiotics, probiotic bacteria, which are living micro-organisms, may work for restoring the balance in the gut, or to help create a stable gut flora that is less prone to diseases like gastroenteritis.
Headed by Emma Marschan at the University of Helsinki, the Finnish team of researchers treated 1223 pregnant women with either probiotics, or a placebo for investigating if probiotics help prevent the development of allergies.
The researchers discovered a 50 percent higher level of key proteins linked with tissue inflammation in the blood of probiotic-treated infants than in the blood of placebo-treated infants. Inflammation is believed to stimulate the immune system, and thus reduce allergic reaction. Also probiotic children were 30 percent less prone to develop an itchy skin condition known as atopic eczema, than their untreated counterparts.
"It seems clear that we need to stimulate the infant's immune system as early and as vigorously as is safe, for inflammation seems to go hand in hand with allergy prevention," New Scientist quoted Errki Savilahti, an author of the study, as saying.
In the absence of such heavy bacterial exposure, the immune system is much less active than it should be and this leads to malfunction and can lead too allergies.
"These probiotics are probably closely mimicking the effects of regularly eating unpasteurised and unsterilised food," said Anthony Horner at the University of California at San Diego.
According to Roger Katz, an allergist at the University of California at Los Angeles, School of Medicine, the results may benefit those who know allergies run in the family.
"Even if someone has the genes for allergies, these results suggest that people can take action to at least reduce the chances of developing early allergic conditions like eczema," he said.