ChildrenCommon ColdCoughPre, Pro, Synbiotics

Probiotic effects on cold and influenza symptoms

An international group of researchers report that taking a dietary probiotic for 6 months reduced the signs and symptoms of colds, and prescription drug use in children.

First, the details.

  • 326 children (3 to 5 years of age) were randomly assigned to treatment group.
    • Placebo
    • Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM
    • L. acidophilus NCFM + Bifidobacterium animalis subsp lactis Bi-07.
  • The children were treated twice daily for 6 months during the winter.
  • Neither the children nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

And, the results compared to placebo.

  • Significantly reduced incidence of fever by 53% and 73%, coughing by 41% and 62%, and runny nose by 28% and 59% with single and combined probiotics, respectively.
  • Significantly decreased duration of fever, coughing, and runny nose by 32% and 48%, with single and combined probiotics, respectively.
  • Antibiotic use significantly decreased by 68% and 84% with single and combined probiotics, respectively.
  • Children taking probiotics had significant 32% and 28% reductions in days absent from group childcare with single and combined probiotics, respectively.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Daily dietary probiotic supplementation for 6 months was a safe effective way to reduce fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration and antibiotic prescription incidence, as well as the number of missed school days attributable to illness, for children 3 to 5 years of age.”

An article on discusses the potential mechanism of action of probiotics when used for this purpose.

Caution related to the use of probiotics is discussed here.

8/2/09 19:30 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.