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Probiotics: protecting kids against a worthy opponent – the common cold

03 Feb., 2014

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria – live microorganisms that occur naturally in the human digestive system and when supplemented to our diet, colonize our colon (mainly) and support our health in numerous ways.

The most well known benefit of Probiotics is their positive effect on gastrointestinal functioning. A less explored benefit, until recent years, was the benefits of Probiotics to children facing the challenges of winter related ailments.

The latest research reveals more about Probiotics and winter related illnesses.

One in depth study, investigated over the span of 5 years the effects on healthy volunteers of certain Probiotic strands combined with 2 types of Prebiotics (non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth and/or activity of bacteria in the digestive system). Besides apparent gastrointestinal symptom relief, the research participants that took Probiotics and Prebiotics on a regular, long-term basis experienced a significant reduction in the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season.

A new clinical trial performed in Australia with 465 active adults indicated that supplements of specific Probiotic strands were associated with a reduction of 27% in the risk of common cold, compared to a placebo control group. An earlier double-blind, placebo-controlled study including 326 children of ages 3–5, showed that consuming specific probiotic strand supplements twice a day for 6 months was a safe and effective way to reduce common cold associated symptoms such as fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidences. In addition, a reduction was also discovered in the duration and in the antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as in the number of missed school days associated with the illness.

This new direction bears specific significance when it comes to young children to which, due to safety concerns, conventional common cold therapies are no longer recommended. A review of the subject published in December 2013 by the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, highlights this concern and states that recent data does suggest that Probiotics may be effective for prevention of common cold illnesses.

With the accumulation of more and more research data on Probiotics and their benefits, a very promising symptomatic treatment alternative may open up before concerned parents seeking to provide their children with safe and effective ways of battling winter related illnesses and their unpleasant though very prevalent symptoms.


A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of synbiotic formulations. Pregliasco F et al., Sep 2008, Journal of clinical gastroenterology; 42 Suppl 3 Pt 2:S224-33.

Probiotic supplementation for respiratory and gastrointestinal illness symptoms in healthy physically active individuals. Nicholas P. West et al., http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Probiotics-Bl-04-may-reduce-common-cold-risk-in-active-adults-Clinical-trial

Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Gregory J. Leyer et al., Pediatrics August 2009; 124:e172-e179

Supportive treatment for children with the common cold. Cortney R. Ballengee and Ronald B. Turner, Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine,
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA, Curr Opin Pediatr 2014, 26:000–000