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The Pro-Child Study: Exploring the Link Between Probiotics and Respiratory Health

The Pro-Child Study: Exploring the Link Between Probiotics and Respiratory Health
By Administrator 4 years ago 12118 Views

Children are at high risks of catching infections such as colds and flus due to their immature immune systems, and being in environments such as schools and nurseries where infections can be passed on easily from one child to another. The prescription of antibiotics to children in the UK is 700 prescriptions/1000 children per year.[i] It is suggested that 30% of antibiotic prescriptions are unnecessary as many of these infections are caused by viruses including common colds, bronchitis and sinus and ear infections, whereby an antibiotic (antibacterial) will be ineffective.[ii]

Respiratory health is a hot topic with the onset of chilly weather. It is estimated that the most common reason for missed work days is due to sickness, with upper respiratory tract infections being the single most common reason for absenteeism at school. Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are characterised by coughs, colds, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, blocked or runny nose. Children can experience 3-8 URTIs per year, with symptoms persisting for up to 10 days. Not only does this have an impact on a child’s education, but also directly affects parents, guardians and careers of children, as this may mean they are forced to forfeit work to care for an ill child.

There are a number of causes of URTIs which is why they are so common and the reason why treatment is often ineffective. It is generally accepted that URTIs can be managed through the use of painkillers, cough syrups and decongestants which aim to ease symptoms as opposed to eliminating the infection. But is there an alternative way URTIs can be managed or even eradicated during the onset of infection?

Increasing evidence has supported the notion that probiotics containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria may help in reducing the incidence and duration of coughs and colds in children and adults. Out of 20 studies concluded, it was found that probiotics reduced the total number of days of illness by an average of 30% (King et al 20141). The Pro-Child Probiotic Study, published in 2015, set out to test this theory to seek out the effectiveness of probiotics for curing coughs and colds in young children, the most susceptible age group.

Out of 57 children that took part in the study, aged 3-7, 34 were given a LAB4 probiotic, along with 50mg of vitamin C every day for 6 months. From the evidence it was uncovered that LAB4 probiotics had a significant impact on reducing the symptoms of coughs and colds, by up to 50%. The results also revealed that there was a 33% reduction in the number of episodes, as well as significant reductions in the use of medications and antibiotics, by 50%. It was reported that absenteeism from school had dropped by half, with an average of 14.2 days absence reduced to 7.5 days.

The study successfully confirmed the benefits of probiotics and vitamin C in preventing coughs and colds, and evidence also uncovered that the effects can also be seen in all children up to 8 years old. This highlights the importance of considering a probiotic supplement during term time, to prevent against disease and infection. Not only can this help support a healthy gut and immune system, but probiotics may also help to reduce absenteeism from school, reduce visits to the doctor, reduce the need for medication and antibiotics and reduce the incidence of coughs and colds throughout the year.

[i] Sharland. The use of antibacterials in children: a report of the Specialist Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance (SACAR) Paediatric Subgroup. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. 2007; 60, Suppl. 1, i15–i26.

[ii] Fleming-Dutra, K et al. Prevalence of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions among US ambulatory care visits, 2010–2011. JAMA. 2016; 3, 315(17):1864-73.

King et al. Effectiveness of probiotics on the duration of illness in healthy children and adults who develop common acute respiratory infectious conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Nutrition. 2014; 3: 1-4

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