According to research conducted at Swansea University, babies given a ‘friendly’ bacteria supplement may be less likely to develop allergies as they grow up, reports theBBC.The study was developed to test the ‘hygiene hypothesis,’ which speculates that rising rates of allergies are caused by underexposure to bacteria during childhood due to increasingly hygienic surroundings.

The study, run by Professor Stephen Allen at the Swansea University College of Medicine, involved 454 pairs of pregnant women and their infants. The mothers took a daily dose of the probiotic supplement beginning in the 36th week of pregnancy. The probiotic was also given during the first six months of the baby’s life.

The babies were then assessed once they turned two years old. It was found that those who had taken the probiotic had a much lower rate of common allergies. The babies were 57% less likely to develop excema than babies that did not receive the supplement. They were also 44% less likely to become allergic to cow’s milk, egg, dust mites, pollen, and other common allergens.

Professor Allen has submitted his research study to the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Already, the preliminary results have caught the attention of doctors around the globe, who believe that the method may be a way to halt rising allergy rates.

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