Mom's Milk May Cut Baby Skin Allergies
Chemicals in Breast Milk May Help Ward Off Infant Dermatitis
July 26, 2006 -- Chalk up another potential benefit for breastfeeding.
Natural chemicals, called prebiotics, found in human breast milk may cut
babies' chances of developing skinallergies.
Guido Moro, MD, and colleagues report this news in the "online
first" edition of the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
They studied 259 babies born between April 2003 and March 2005 at the
Macedonio Melloni Maternity Hospital in Milan, Italy -- the hospital where Moro
The babies in Moro's study were all healthy. But they were at high risk of
developing skin allergies, since they had at least one parent diagnosed with
allergies, eczema, or asthma.
When the mothers gave birth, the researchers advised them to breastfeed
But not all moms are able to breastfeed. So the researchers asked the women
to tell them if they switched the babies to formula.
Special Baby Formula
All the babies included in Moro's study had started receiving formula, at
least occasionally, within the first two weeks of life. And all had stopped
breastfeeding by six weeks.
The researchers supplied the formula. But this wasn't ordinary formula.
Moro's team added prebiotics to the formula for a randomly chosen group of
Prebiotics are thought to promote the growth of good bacteria in the
A total of 102 babies used the prebiotics formula for six months. Another
104 babies got ordinary formula for six months.
During that time, the babies got monthly checkups.
The researchers found that babies in the prebiotics group were less than
half as likely to have skin allergies.
Skin allergies (atopic dermatitis) were
diagnosed in 10 babies in the prebiotics group, 24 in the comparison group, the
It's not yet clear exactly how prebiotics worked. But stool samples from 98
babies showed more gut-friendly bacteria in babies in the prebiotics group, the