Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Importance of probiotics for children

The positive effects of probiotics in children are not limited to the gastrointestinal tract. Various probiotics are used to support immune health. Many of you already know that we are ardent supporters of probiotics for immune support.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in Pediatrics showed significantly reduced symptoms of cold and flu in children 3 to 5 years old using two probiotic strains we commonly recommend. The studies' highlights:
  • Aimed to evaluate probiotic consumption effects on cold and flu-like symptom incidence and duration in healthy children during the winter season.
  • 326 children ages 3 to 5 were randomly assigned Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM alone, in combination with Bifidobacterium lactis, or placebo twice daily for six months.
  • Reduced fever incidence by 53% in acidophilus alone and 73% in the acidophilus/bifidus combination compared to placebo. Reduced coughing incidence of 41% alone and 62% in combo. Reduced runny nose incidence of 28% alone and 59% in combo.
  • All cold and flu symptoms decreased significantly compared to placebo (32% alone and 48% in combo). Antibiotic use incidence was reduced by 68% alone and 84% in combo compared to placebo. Children receiving probiotics had a 32% reduction in school days absent alone and 27% in the combo.
In short, the researchers state "daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe and effective way to reduce fever, runny nose, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age."

Of course, this is music to our ears. With the world in a constant battle with infectious disease, why would you take the chance and not supplement with a probiotic? Beyond preventing infection, probiotics have myriad other benefits that Steve and I have extensively explored.

This study yet again reaffirms that when provided with the proper fuel, an optimally functioning immune system can be achieved. Note that these recommendations not only apply to kids, but adults as well.

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