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Friendly bacteria to help babies.

Friendly bacteria could halve the risk of babies and young children developing common allergies, such as eczema and asthma. More than 600 babies are being recruited to take part in a long- term study to identify whether probiotics, if taken from birth, can boost the immune system. The research by scientists at Swansea University could lead to the production of a new food supplement for newborn babies to help prevent eczema and asthma.

The university's School of Medicine has joined forces with supplement manufacture, Cultech of Baglan, to develop a probiotic for babies. If the research is successful, the supplement could be available within five years.

As many as one in two babies develop eczema and rates of childhood asthma in Wales are among the highest in the world.

Dr Steve Allen, of the developmental medicine paediatrics and immunology research group at the School's Institute of Life Science, said, 'South Wales has a particularly high incidence of asthma and eczema, which are associated with abnormal immune responses in the newborn child.

'The immune dysfunction underlying allergy is thought to be caused by inadequate stimulation of the immune system.

'Studies suggest that such stimulation could be provided by probiotic organisms.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 29, 2005
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