When administered with immunotherapy, probiotics may boost the ability of kids to fight off peanut allergies. The bugs may also help kids tolerate peanuts two to five weeks after the therapy stops, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Approximately three million people report allergies to peanuts and tree nuts, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Studies show the number of children living with peanut allergy appears to have tripled between 1997 and 2008.
Researchers conducted a double blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial that combined the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus and peanut oral immunotherapy (OIT) in 62 children, aged one to 10 years. The study lasted 18 months.
They found that the probiotics made a difference. Of the 56 kids who completed the study, 23 of 28 who got the probiotic plus OIT “achieved sustained unresponsiveness, ” i.e. didn’t react to the allergens. Only one of the kids who received the placebo had the same effect.
The combo was a major help in desensitizing the kids. Nearly 90 percent of the probiotics and peanut OIT-treated participants achieved desensitivation compared to just about seven percent of the participants who received the placebo.
In their conclusion, the researchers note that before it’s considered for treatment, more investigation is needed to determine exactly what roles each ingredient plays in affecting the immune response. The research was noted on healio.com.
The link between probiotics and kids’ allergies is not new. Last year, a meta-analysis published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that when a woman takes probiotics while pregnant, it slightly reduces her child’s risk of developing allergies.