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Prebiotic supplements may help address child allergies.

Prebiotic supplements may help address child allergies.

In the past year, various studies have shown that food sensitivities and other allergies are on the rise among American children, and that these reactions may be more severe than physicians had previously believed. Medical researchers and concerned parents alike have speculated about the root cause for this development. Some have theorized that changes in food manufacturing methods play a role, while others believe that taking too many precautions to protect children from irritants may be weakening their immune systems.

But, whatever the driving force behind this increase, it helps to know what can be done to combat this issue. According to a recent review of related studies that was released in The Cochrane Library and covered by ScienceDaily, introducing prebiotic supplements to baby formula may help prevent the development of such sensitivities. Prebiotics are the compounds that actually feed the good bacteria – also known as probiotics – that promote overall gut health.

Though further research is necessary to establish a clear link, the source states that one study covered in the review showed that prebiotic-enhanced infant formula could reduce the risk of eczema and asthma in children who were considered “high-risk” for these irritant-related conditions.

“We found some evidence that infant formula containing prebiotic supplements can help prevent eczema in children up to two years of age, [but] more high quality research is needed before we can recommend routine use of prebiotics for prevention of allergy,” explained lead researcher and University of Sydney professor John Sinn.

While research regarding the benefits of prebiotics is continuing to expand, scientists have long been investigating the effects of probiotic supplements on gut health and general well-being. Past studies, including a 2008 paper from the University of Helsinki, have revealed that this good bacteria may bolster the immune system against allergies when taken as a prenatal supplement and at other stages of life.

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