In the present study, we sought to conduct a literature review of randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, which assessed the impact of probiotics intake during pregnancy on the development of eczema in children. A meta-analysis was conducted for comparison of the development of atopic eczema in children whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy v. placebo. Study selection, quality appraisal and data extraction were performed independently and in duplicate. The studies were rated according to their size in order to calculate the influence of individual studies on the meta-analysis. A total of seven randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, published between 2001 and 2009, were selected from the PubMed and Ovid databases for the meta-analysis. The meta-analysis was performed with statistical software Stata/SE11.0. The completed meta-analysis of the seven studies shows a significant risk reduction for atopic eczema in children aged 2–7 years by the administration of probiotics during pregnancy (reduction 5·7 %; P = 0·022). However, this effect was only significant for lactobacilli (reduction 10·6 %; P = 0·045), but not for a mixture of various bacterial strains as probiotics (difference 3·06 %, P = 0·204). In conclusion, the meta-analysis shows that the administration of lactobacilli during pregnancy prevents atopic eczema in children aged from 2 to 7 years. However, a mixture of various bacterial strains does not affect the development of atopic eczema, independent of whether they contain lactobacilli or not.
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