CAM Case:

Probiotics for Gastroenteritis and Allergies -- A Double Benefit for Mother and Child?

Désirée Lie, MD, MSEd

Disclosures

September 14, 2010

Case Study

Cindy is a 29-year-old mother of 3-year-old Justin who has been treated for moderately severe atopic dermatitis since infancy. Skin areas affected include the cubital fossa; behind the knees; and occasionally the inguinal fossa, neck and behind the pinna. Treatment has consisted of:

  • Low-potency topical corticosteroids;

  • Avoidance of irritants and triggers; and

  • Emollients and bath products that mom uses consistently.

Justin is also allergic to cow's milk and develops skin rashes or worsening of his dermatitis when exposed to cow's milk products, but he has no problems ingesting yogurt and goat cheese. He avoids dairy products in general, however, and primarily drinks soy milk.

He has no history of asthma and has had no serious respiratory problems other than recurrent viral upper respiratory infections and one episode of bronchiolitis around age 4 months. He attends day care because his mother works full-time, and he is affected by frequent gastroenteritis -- presumed viral and contracted from other children at the day-care center. Family history is positive for eczema on his father's side, his paternal grandfather and one paternal aunt also affected.

Cindy is now pregnant with her second child. She is in her second trimester, and concerned about the likelihood of the child being affected by atopic dermatitis like Justin is. She has just heard from other mothers about probiotics and prebiotics offering protection for atopic dermatitis and allergic conditions, and wonders if it will help her unborn child if she took them during her pregnancy. She also wants to know if Justin should try them for his atopic dermatitis.

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