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Nutrient - Probiotics may reduce cold and flu symptoms in children

By Holly Taylor BSc (Hons) DipCNM MBANT

A new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that a daily probiotic supplement could help reduce the incidence of cold and ‘flu-like’ symptoms, in children, by 50% or more.

During the study, the researchers recruited 326 children, aged between three and five, and divided them into three groups. One group was given the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus, the second group was given a probiotic containing both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium and the final group received dummy pills. The researchers then monitored the children to see how frequently they experienced a fever, cough or runny nose, as well as noting how often they needed antibiotics or had to miss childcare.

For the Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements, the results showed a 53% reduction in fever symptoms, a 28% reduction in runny noses and a 41% drop in the incidence of coughing. However, the combination probiotic results were even more impressive, indicating reductions in fever incidence by 73%, a reduction in the occurrence of runny noses by 59% and drop in the incidence of coughing by 62%. The overall duration of symptoms was also reduced in the single and combination supplement groups by 32% and 48%, respectively.

These findings add to the growing body of research linking probiotic supplements to immunity. The scientists who undertook the study believe the positive effects on cold and flu-like symptoms are a result of the probiotics’ ability to stimulate the immune system. 

Article References

Leyer GJ et al. (2009) Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Pediatrics. 124. pp.172-179

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