Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children

Gregory J. Leyer, PhDa, Shuguang Li, MSb, Mohamed E. Mubasher, PhDc, Cheryl Reifer, PhDd and Arthur C. Ouwehand, PhDe

a Department of Research and Development, Danisco, Madison, Wisconsin
b Department of Preventive Medicine, Medical College of Tongji University, Shanghai, China
c Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Texas at Houston, Dallas Regional Campus, Dallas, Texas
d Department of Scientific Affairs, SPRIM USA, Frisco, Texas
e Department of Research and Development, Danisco, Kantvik, Finland

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.


Key Words: Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM • Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07 • antibiotic usage • upper respiratory infections • colds • influenza • probiotics

Abbreviations: CFU—colony-forming unit • OR—odds ratio


Accepted Mar 12, 2009. PEDIATRICS Vol. 124 No. 2 August 2009, pp. e172-e179 (doi:10.1542/peds.2008-2666)

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