ChildrenInfectionPre, Pro, Synbiotics

Using probiotics to protect kids from infection

 Researchers from Buddhist Tzu Chi General Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan report that long-term administration of Lactobacillus rhamnosus T cell-1  decreased the incidence of bacterial infection in children.

Well, maybe it did… but maybe it didn’t.

First, the details.

  • 986 children were randomly assigned to take daily supplements.
    • No supplements (control group).
    • Single strain L casei rhamnosus (200 million colony forming units [cfu]).
    • L rhamnosus T cell-1 (10 billion cfu).
    • Multi-strain (7 species of Lactobacillus, 3 of Bifidobacteria, 1 of Streptococcus, and 1 of Enterococcus)
  • Duration of treatment is not indicated in the abstract.

And, the results.
Bacterial infections

  • Significant reductions were observed in the single strain (1.8 times) and T cell groups (1.9 times).
  • There were no reductions with the multiple strain group.

Gastrointestinal diseases

  • A 42% and 44% decrease with short- and long-term treatment in the multiple strain group.
  • No reduction with L casei rhamnosus.

Viral infections

  • 18% reduction with L casei rhamnosus.
  • No reduction in the multiple probiotic T cell-1 groups.

The bottom line?
The study was designed to support  specific probiotic products supplied by their manufacturers. However, questions about the validity of the results have surfaced.

Prof. Gregor Reid from The University of Western Ontario stated there was poor adherence to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) definitions.

In addition, a strain termed L rhamnosus T cell-1, “is a strange designation, and the journal should have questioned it.” “The name implies that the strain somehow confers an anti-infectious benefit through T cell modulation, yet the study does not examine T cell activation.”

Prof. Reid also questions the researchers’ interpretation of their data, saying that the reported reductions in bacterial infections are not supported by data presented in the study.


2/18/09 11:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.