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Probiotics Prevent Colds

Posted Aug 07 2009 10:08pm

Here’s a summary of a study that just appeared in Pediatrics:

More than 300 children between three and five years of age were randomly assigned to receive three different milk formulations: plain milk, milk plus the bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus, or milk with Lactobacillus plus the bacterium Bifodobacterium animalis.

The group that just received Lactobacillus were half as likely to develop a cold and a fever. They also had fewer coughs and runny noses. Those that got both strains of probiotics had 72 percent fewer fevers. They were also less likely to come down with a cough or runny nose. If they did get sick, they got better significantly sooner. They also missed fewer days of daycare.

Here’s the abstract of that study:

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.

The probiotics were given as pills. Such large safe improvements are signs of a nutritional deficiency being remedied. It would be very hard to produce a drug that worked as well.

Thanks to Tom George.

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