Study Shows Probiotics Reduce Cold & Flu Symptoms in Children

 Just in time for the start of term, a new study published in the respected journal Pediatrics, has found that daily probiotic supplementation may reduce ‘cold and flu’ symptoms in children by 50%.

In the study, 326 children aged between 3 and 5 were randomly assigned to one of three groups, and received twice daily for six months the single L. acidophilus, a combination of L. acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, or a placebo.

Results showed reductions in the incidence of fever, coughing and runny noses, a reduction in the use of antibiotics and fewer missed school days in children taking either of the probiotic interventions.  The duration of symptoms was reduced compared to placebo groups, with a 32% and 48% decrease observed in the single strain and combination groups, respectively.


The authors, led by Gregory Leyer and his co-workers from Tongji University (Shanghai), the University of Texas at Houston, and Sprim USA (Frisco) commented, daily probiotic supplementation during the winter months was a safe effective way to reduce episodes of fever, rhinorrhea, and cough, the cumulative duration of those symptoms, the incidence of antibiotic prescriptions, and the number of missed school days attributable to illness”.

Study comment: the use of a probiotic supplement for reducing respiratory illness in children may be particularly relevant to recent concerns about the safety of over the counter and prescription cough and cold medicines for this age group.  The probiotic supplement used in this study was well tolerated and given in a twice daily dose of ten billion CFUs of either L acidophilus NCFM or a 50:50 mixture of L acidophilus NCFM and B lactis BI-07.

Pediatrics 2009, Volume 124: e172-e179
Leyer, Mubasher, Reifer & Ouwehand.  “Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children” Nutri News Aug 09

Ed’s Comment: there are many different probiotics on the market, unfortunately many of them a complete waste of money as they are manufactured or stored wrongly, are too weak to do any real good, can’t get through the stomach acid or simply are dead before you buy them. That’s why I will only use specific ones. If you need help with what to give your child, please ask.

And on the back-to-school theme, here is a copy of the Purehealth Guide to Packed Lunches:

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