Probiotics May Help with Infections in Young Children

If someone said you should give your children bacteria to shorten the duration of their infections, you’d think they were crazy, right? Well, that idea might not be so crazy after all. A study found children who are given probiotics (“friendly” bacteria) get over respiratory infections sooner than children who are not given probiotics. Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study included 225 children, ages 3 to 12, and divided them into two groups. For children in the first group, when someone in their home got sick, they were immediately given two probiotics—Lactobacillus acidophilus DDS-1 and Bifidobacterium lactis UABLA-12—plus fructooligosaccharides (a prebiotic that stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria). These children were given a total of 5 billion colony-forming probiotics, plus 50 mg of the prebiotic, daily for two weeks, or, if the child got sick, until their respiratory infection had cleared up. For children in the second group, when someone in their home got sick, they were immediately given a placebo. They were given the placebo for the same duration as the probiotic group. Here is what the researchers observed:

  • The duration of the respiratory infection in children who received probiotics was, on average, two days shorter than in children who did not receive probiotics. There was also a statistically significant difference in the severity of the infections—children who received probiotics had milder symptoms than children who did not receive probiotics.
  • There was no statistically significant difference between the groups in terms of the number of children who developed an infection.

These findings add to a growing body of evidence that demonstrates probiotics may help with respiratory infections, as well as with other types of infections. However, more research is needed to determine precisely which probiotics, and in which amounts, are the most effective.

Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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