- A meta-analysis finds that, in a subgroup of randomized controlled trials, the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG given pre- and postnatally may reduce asthma by 25% in mostly high-risk children.
Why this matters
- Results need confirmation in larger, higher-quality studies.
- Meta-analysis of 17 randomized controlled trials (RCTs; n=5246 children) after search of PubMed, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, and Chinese databases.
- The primary outcome was clinically diagnosed asthma in children.
- 14 of the 17 trials were of high-risk children.
- 11 of the 17 trials had both pre- and postnatal exposure.
- 8 of the 17 trials were of L rhamnosus GG.
- Funding: National Science Foundation of China; others.
- The pooled data revealed no reduction in childhood asthma (risk ratio [RR], 0.86; P=.06).
- Subgroup analysis by strain found that L rhamnosus GG cut childhood asthma risk by 25% (RR, 0.75; P=.04; I2=11%).
- Subgroup analysis by period of intervention found that postnatal exposure cut childhood asthma risk by 37% (RR, 0.63; P=.03; I2=0%).
- The pooled data found no reduction in childhood allergic rhinitis (RR, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.77-1.39), wheeze (RR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.81-1.08), or positive aeroallergen skin-prick test result (RR, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.50-1.09).
- High-risk children were not defined.
- Missing data on type/dose of placebo.