Children’s eczema symptoms relieved by new Fonterra probiotic research

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 18th October 2012

A probiotic developed from dairy cultures by New-Zealand based Fonterra Nutrition has been reported to have significant long term benefits for children suffering from eczema; a condition that affects around 1 in 4 children in Australia before the age of two.

Fonterra’s Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 was shown in a previous trial to help reduce the occurrence of eczema symptoms in children by almost 50 per cent when they took the probiotic up to two years of age. Now, a follow-up study published in the international journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy has shown that the reduction in symptoms continues through to four years old, even though the children stopped taking the probiotic at two years of age.

Fonterra Nutrition Senior Research Scientist Dr James Dekker said the results indicate that Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 may be able to modify the immune system early in a child’s development, to deliver long term benefits with no discernible side effects.

“Eczema affects millions of children worldwide, with around half the cases being diagnosed before one-year of age,” Mr Dekker said.

Professor Julian Crane, one of the study’s authors, said the latest findings showed that Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001 has a long-term protective effect and could be an effective solution in reducing the risk of eczema development in children with a family history of allergy.

Earlier this year, Australian Food News reported the resurgence of probiotics in the Australian market. It was reported that although many probiotics have had retail success around the world, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has been hesitant to give pre-approval for the health claims of probiotics.

The latest research by Fonterra has the potential to overcome the problem in the case of foods containing probiotics. It will be interesting to see whether Fonterra will formally seek EFSA or other regulatory pre-approvals for a health benefits claim in relation to probiotics and eczema.