Worldwide the prevalence of allergic diseases is rising dramatically in both developed and developing countries. In spite of this escalation, even in the developed world, treatment options for patients with allergic diseases are far from ideal. Allergic diseases are caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to harmful substances in the environment. Major allergic diseases include asthma, food allergies, allergic rhinitis (AR) and atopic dermatitis (AD) or eczema. Worldwide, AR currently affects between 10% and 30% of the population and studies indicate that prevalence rates are increasing. AD affects nowadays 15-30% of children and 2-10% of adults.
Major changes in microbial exposure in the first half of the century are believed to trigger the accelerating increase in allergic diseases.
Allergic diseases have a high morbidity, are responsible for a substantial proportion of health service use, and are accompanied by a severely reduced quality of life. It is not completely clear what triggers the dramatic increases in incidence of allergies, but many theories postulate the involvement of (Westernized) lifestyle, environment and (missing) microbes. Moreover, the World Allergy Organization and clinical studies, reveal that a reduced biodiversity and alterations in the composition of the gut and skin microbiota are associated with various inflammatory conditions including asthma and allergy.
Establishing a healthy intestinal microbiota early in life contributes to proper intestinal development and maturation of the immune system. This relatively low or inappropriate microbial exposure could be a problem for the child’s developing immune system and as such be responsible for the increasing prevalence of allergic diseases. Research has shown that the intestine of babies suffering from eczema shows a less diverse microbiota composition compared to the intestine of healthy babies.
Thus, a potential approach to manage allergic symptoms could be the administration of specifically selected probiotic strains.
Winclove has developed several probiotic formulations for management or prevention of allergies: