By Allergen Bureau

The SYMBA Study: Can prebiotic use in pregnancy prevent food allergy?

With a baby’s immune system beginning to develop from about 20 weeks gestation, pregnancy presents the perfect time to influence future immunity. Researchers at Western Australia’s Telethon Kids Institute and the Joondalup Health Campus are looking for study participants to help them explore the impact of prebiotics during pregnancy on the prevention of childhood allergies.

Recent research shows a mother’s gut health during pregnancy and breastfeeding may greatly influence immune development, with good gut health contributing to a stronger immune system. ‘Prebiotics’ is a general term for non-digestible dietary fibre that promote health and well-being by inducing the growth and/or activity of beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics occur naturally in grains, legumes, vegetables, fruit and breast milk

The SYMBA study will look specifically at whether supplementing a mother’s diet with prebiotic fibre during pregnancy and breastfeeding will reduce the development of allergies in her child.

The project will recruit pregnant women to receive either a prebiotic supplement or a placebo supplement. They will be asked to take the supplement from 18-20 weeks gestation until their baby is 6 months of age. The study will then examine whether supplementing the mother’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding with the prebiotic fibre will reduce the development of allergies in her child.

More details about the SYMBA Study, including how to participate, can be found on the Telethon Kids Institute website.