by Dr. Leo Galland
Probiotics, beneficial bacteria in food or dietary supplements, are the subject of ongoing research for their potential to help boost immunity.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study done at the University of Wisconsin found that children who received two doses a day of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis for 6 months had a major reduction in acute winter illnesses.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that fever was decreased by 73%, cough by 62% and runny nose by 59%, compared to placebo. Children who received Lactobacillus acidophilus only, also fared better than those receiving placebo, but did not do as well as the children receiving the combined supplement.
The research team led by Greg Leyer concluded: “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence…” (Leyer et al.)
Reference and Abstract:
Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children.
Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC.Department of Research and Development, Danisco, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: Probiotic consumption effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration were evaluated in healthy children during the winter season.
METHODS: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 326 eligible children (3-5 years of age) were assigned randomly to receive placebo (N = 104), Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM (N = 110), or L acidophilus NCFM in combination with Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07 (N = 112). Children were treated twice daily for 6 months.
RESULTS: Relative to the placebo group, single and combination probiotics reduced fever incidence by 53.0% (P = .0085) and 72.7% (P = .0009), coughing incidence by 41.4% (P = .027) and 62.1% (P = .005), and rhinorrhea incidence by 28.2% (P = .68) and 58.8% (P = .03), respectively. Fever, coughing, and rhinorrhea duration was decreased significantly, relative to placebo, by 32% (single strain; P = .0023) and 48% (strain combination; P < .001). Antibiotic use incidence was reduced, relative to placebo, by 68.4% (single strain; P = .0002) and 84.2% (strain combination; P < .0001). Subjects receiving probiotic products had significant reductions in days absent from group child care, by 31.8% (single strain; P = .002) and 27.7% (strain combination; P < .001), compared with subjects receiving placebo treatment.
CONCLUSION: Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.