Probiotic Formula May Help Reverse Milk Allergies in Infants

Findings published in the ISME Journal suggest that a probiotic supplement could help milk-allergic infants become milk-tolerant. The year-long study included 19 infants, aged 1 to 12 months, diagnosed with a cow’s milk allergy and still receiving cow’s milk protein (mostly from formula). The infants were assigned to receive either a milk protein formula containing the probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, or a milk protein formula without the probiotic. Researchers took stool samples from the 19 infants at the beginning of the study and after 6 months. They also took stool samples from 20 healthy, cow’s milk-formula-fed infants, in order to compare the gut bacteria of allergic and non-allergic babies. After adjusting for factors such as body weight and age, they found that:

  • Of the infants drinking the probiotic-supplemented formula, 42% of them developed a tolerance for cow’s milk. Infants drinking formula without the probiotic remained allergic.
  • Compared to healthy infants, milk-allergic infants had lower levels of gut bacteria that produce butyrate—a fatty acid that helps keep the large intestinal lining healthy.
  • After probiotic treatment, infants who developed a tolerance for milk had more colonies of butyrate-producing bacteria than infants who did not develop a tolerance.

This study is important because it suggests that gut bacteria plays a role in food allergies and that certain probiotic supplements may have a place in allergy treatment. Probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and unpasteurized sauerkraut, contain bacteria in the same family as the probiotic supplement used in this study, and researchers are actively exploring their usefulness in allergy prevention and treatment. Of course, talk with your pediatrician before introducing new foods or supplements into your baby’s diet.

Source: ISME Journal

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