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Can Probiotics Boost Immunity?

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I have had some travel time in the car so that gave me an opportunity to catch up on my journal reading. I found an interesting article from Pediatrics, August 2009. This article seemed very timely given that we are into an early flu season with H1N1 already being prevalent throughout most of the country and more colds and influenza on the way this winter.

This study was done in China and looked at 326 healthy children ages, three to five years old who were in a childcare center. This was a randomized, placebo controlled, double blind study in which there were three groups of children. The first group received probiotics as lactobacillus acidophilus alone, another group received lactobacillus acidophilus plus bifodbacterium, while the third group received placebo. All of these were given as a powder mixed with four ounces of milk, twice daily (So they were getting dairy too).

Surprisingly, significantly fewer children in the two probiotic groups than in the placebo group had episodes of fever, cough and runny nose, as reported by both parents and day care providers.  In addition, significantly fewer children in the probiotic groups received antibiotics. The three groups did have similar numbers of physicians visits, but mean days absent from day care were significantly lower in the probiotic group than in the placebo group. There were no notable adverse effects noted in the children taking the probiotic mixtures.

Now, the mechanism as to how the probiotics worked is not clear, but probiotics are being studied for their general immune enhancing effects. At the very least this is an interesting study, and hopefully there will be more studies done to see if these results can be duplicated in other trials in the U.S.

With that being said, I am going to start reading some more about probiotics and also buying a few probiotics to take this winter. I can’t see that prophylactic probiotics to prevent cold and flu symptoms can hurt, and along with good hand washing and my flu vaccine I hope to stay healthy this winter. More to come about probiotics as more studies are released, I am happy to be a volunteer!

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.

Related Posts on www.kidsdr.com

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