Probiotic combination shows immune health benefits for children in day care

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Sasiistock
© Getty Images / Sasiistock

Related tags Probiotics immune support Respiratory tract infections supplementation

A combination of two Lactobacillus strains may reduce the severity of runny nose, and may reduce absences from day care, says a new study from Swedish probiotic player Probi.

Data published in the European Journal of Nutrition​indicated that daily consumption for three months of the probiotic combination – which is commercially available as Probi Defendum – by young children in day care led to absences from day care of 1.7 days, compared to 2.4 days in the placebo group, with the severity score of the respiratory tract infections was also decreased in the probiotic group.

“The current study provides for the first-time evidence that ​Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9 and ​Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 reduce the severity of common colds in children as reflected in symptom relief, reduced need for medication during the study and reduced absence from day care due to sickness,” ​wrote the researchers from Probi AB in Sweden.

Probiotics for immune support

The study adds to an ever-growing body of science supporting the potential immune health benefits of probiotics. Although the effects are often strain-specific, a recent economic modeling study reported that reductions in the incidence and duration of flu-like respiratory tract infections in the US as a result of probiotic supplements may translate into over $1 billion of costs savings.

Data published in Frontiers in Pharmacology​ indicated that probiotics may reduce the duration of the infection, the use of antibiotics, and missed days at work, all of which would translate into significant cost savings for the US population.

The new study used two specific strains: Lactobacillus plantarum​ HEAL9 and Lactobacillus paracasei​ 8700:2. The potential immune health benefits of these strains have been tested in adults, to mixed results. The new study is the first time the combination has been tested in children.

Study details

The researchers recruited 131 healthy children attending day care between the ages of one and six and randomly assigned them to receive either the Probi Defendum product or placebo on aspects of common cold.

Results from the 106 children who completed the study indicated that daily probiotic consumption significantly reduced the severity of the symptom “nasal congestion/runny nose”, compared to placebo.

In addition, the probiotic use reported less concomitant medication use, compared to placebo.

The results also supported a reduction in absences from day care, a reduction in the overall severity per day in the children, and a reduction in “crying more than usual” for the children receiving the probiotic, compared to placebo.

Commenting on the potential mechanism(s) of action, the researchers noted that Lactobacillus paracasei​ 8700:2 and strains genetically similar to Lactobacillus plantarum​ HEAL9 may induce innate cell-mediated immune functions and activate T-lymphocytes (white blood cells that play a role in the immune system).  

Taxonomic reclassification of the genus Lactobacillus

Big changes are coming to how many of the most popular – and commercially important – probiotics are classified. The name Lactobacillus​ is instantly recognizable to many consumers and healthcare professionals, but the genus is extremely diverse and includes 251 species. Scientists have been working for years on this reclassification, and these changes will have significant impacts on many areas, from labeling to scientific publications and IP.

Join NutraIngredients-USA for a FREE educational webinar about this topic: Lactobacillus: What Brands Need to Know About the Taxonomic Changes​, will take place on December 11 at 12:30pm Eastern/ 9:30am Pacific. For more information and to register, please click HERE​.

Source: European Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s00394-019-02137-8
“Evaluation of the efficacy of ​Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9 and ​Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 on aspects of common cold infections in children attending day care: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study”
Authors: I. Lazou Ahrén et al.

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