Asthma/AllergyInfantsPre, Pro, Synbiotics

Synbiotics and preventing asthma-like symptoms in infants

Researchers at the Academic Medical Center, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands studied symbiotic therapy to prevent asthma-like symptoms in infants with atopic dermatitis–chronic inflammation of the skin.

Synbiotic refers to a product containing probiotics, which selectively enhances the action of the probiotic in the compound.

First, the details.

  • 90 infants with atopic dermatitis were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 12 weeks.
    • Bifidobacterium breve M-16V + a galacto/fructooligosaccharide mixture (Immunofortis)
    • The same formula without synbiotics
  • After 1 year, the prevalence of respiratory symptoms and asthma medication use was evaluated.
  • Also, total IgE blood levels and specific IgE against aeroallergens (pollen or spores) were determined.
    • IgE is a naturally occurring substance that, in some people, causes chemical reactions that may lead to asthma symptoms and attacks.
  • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

And, the results.

  • 75 children completed the 1-year follow-up evaluation.
  • The prevalence of “frequent wheezing” and “wheezing and/or noisy breathing apart from colds” was significantly lower with synbiotics vs placebo (14% vs 34%, respectively).
  • Significantly fewer children in the synbiotic group started using asthma drugs (6% vs 26%).
  • Total IgE levels didn’t differ between the 2 groups.
  • No children in the synbiotic and 5 children (15%) in the placebo group developed elevated IgE levels against cat–a significant difference.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “This synbiotic mixture prevents asthma-like symptoms in infants with atopic dermatitis.”

Others have reported positive results, here, here, and here. The challenge is to determine which combination of pro-, pre-, and symbiotic is best.

6/22/10 17:42 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.