A twitter follower suggested I look at studies using probiotics for childhood asthma. Good suggestion and so here it is! It is not an in depth analysis of each study but I have point-form summarized the studies and given overall bullet points for the studies as a whole.
I found 6 studies involving childhood asthma and probiotics, they also often include allergic rhinitis and allergic sensitization. Five of the studies are with probiotics administered to children and one is with probiotics given to expecting mothers.
A few overall thoughts on the studies
- One childhood study uses a fermented milk beverage. Milk could be an allergen in individuals with respiratory disease so I don’t think it was the best choice. This study shows that, " results suggest that even over the short time period of eight weeks, an egg- and milk-free diet can reduce atopic symptoms and improve lung function in asthmatic children." J R Soc Promot Health. 2004 Mar;124(2):74-80. The effects of exclusion of dietary egg and milk in the management of asthmatic children: a pilot study.
- Most of the studies use one strain of probiotic. It is possible that better clinical results would come from a broad spectrum of probiotics. One study did use a combinations of probiotics but it was given to expecting women. The other study using a combination of probiotics was given for the first 6 months of life but the study was based on the follow-up at 5 years.
- Two studies had a short duration of 8 weeks
- None of the studies used a whole treatment approach to childhood asthma of diet, supplementation, or other complementary modalities used together. One study did use laser acupuncture in combination with probiotics.
- Only one study showed a positive effect of probiotics on childhood asthma
- There was some effect on atopic dermatitis, allergic sensitization and allergic rhinitis in most of the studies
The studies in brief with links to full abstracts.
Randomized placebo-controlled trial of lactobacillus on asthmatic children with allergic rhinitis.
Pediatr Pulmonol. 2010 Nov;45(11):1111-20.
- Lactobacillus gasseri A5 for 8 weeks
- asthma and allergic rhinitis
- 105 children 6-12 with asthma or allergic rhinitis
- probiotics significantly increased pulmonary function and peak expiratory flow rates (PEFR), clinical symptoms scores for asthma and allergic rhinitis decreased
- there was a significant reduction in TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-12, and IL-13 production by the peripheral blood mononuclear cells following the probiotic treatment
Clin Exp Allergy. 2010 Sep;40(9):1398-405. Epub 2010 Jun 28.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG, 10(10) colony forming units) 6 months
- allergic sensitization and asthma.
- 131 children, 6-24 months with 2 wheezing episodes and first-degree family history of atopic disease
- At follow-up there was no significant decrease in atopic dermatitis or childhood asthma related events
- There were fewer sensitizations towards aero-allergens after 6 months and after the following 6 month follow-up
A randomized prospective double blind controlled trial on effects of long-term consumption of fermented milk containing Lactobacillus casei in pre-school children with allergic asthma and/or rhinitis.
Pediatr Res. 2007 Aug;62(2):215-20.
- fermented milk containing a specific Lactobacillus casei 12 months
- 187 children 2-5 years with allergic childhood asthma and/or rhinitis
- No statistical difference between intervention and control group occurred in asthmatic children.
- In rhinitis, the annual number of rhinitis episodes was lower in the intervention group, and the mean duration of an episode of diarrhea was lower in the intervention group. Described as a mild effect
Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2007 Mar;18(2):160-6.
- Enterococcus faecalis 8 weeks with laser acupuncture
- 17 children 6-12 years with intermittent or mild persistent childhood asthma
- TCM group had fewer days of acute febrile infections when compared with the control group
Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011 Mar;22(2):249-51.
- probiotic combination, plus pre-biotics (no dosage)
- 1018 children during 6 months from birth
- Allergic disease and IgE-sensitization was not different between groups
Br J Dermatol. 2010 Sep;163(3):616-23.
- 415 moms
- probiotic milk or placebo from 36 weeks of gestation to 3 months postnatally during breastfeeding.
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, L. acidophilus La-5 and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis Bb-12.
- There were no significant effects on childhood asthma or atopic sensitization but reduced the cumulative incidence of atopic dermatitis