Acute respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are the most common acute health problems attended to in primary care.6 Caused by a large range of bacteria and viruses, acute upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) are a major cause of morbidity, especially in children.7 The risk of acquiring an RTI is 2-3 times higher in children who attend day-care compared to those who are cared for at home.8
Despite most URTIs being self-limiting, they are the most common cause for visits to healthcare practitioners and for the prescription of antibiotics in children. URTIs therefore cause a substantial social and economic burden.9
Since effective antiviral therapies are not available for most URTIs, other therapies are needed to help support defense against respiratory tract infections and to decrease symptom load. Therapies supporting proper immune function could serve this purpose.
Some probiotic strains, such as the Chr. Hansen LGG® and BB-12® strains, have demonstrated an ability to stimulate immune responses that support the defense against pathogens.10-14 For example, several in vitro assays have shown that LGG® stimulates secretion of the Th1-associated cytokines IL-12, IFN-γ, TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 from different immune cell types.11-14
Stimulation of Th1 responses has also been observed in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study in which infants with cow’s milk allergy consumed LGG® or placebo for four weeks. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from infants who had consumed the probiotic secreted significantly higher levels of the Th1 cytokine IFN-γ ex vivo compared with PBMCs from the placebo group.15
Furthermore, evidence from randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled studies investigating the LGG® and BB-12® strains in infants and children have demonstrated significant reductions in the risk of developing RTIs.16-19
Daily intake of LGG® at 1 billion CFU over a 3 month period was associated with a significant reduction in the number of children with URTIs, the number of RTIs lasting longer than three days, and the duration of respiratory symptoms.1 Compared to children in the placebo group, children supplemented with LGG® also had significantly fewer days away from daycare due to illness.1
LGG® has also been associated with fewer hospital-acquired infections in children.16 When children admitted to hospital were supplemented with LGG® at 1 billion CFU/day in fermented milk for the length of their stay, there was a significant reduction in the number of gastrointestinal infections lasting longer than two days, and a significant reduction in the number of respiratory infections lasting longer than three days.16
Click to read more about the Chr. Hansen LGG® strain.
BB-12® has been associated with reduced incidence of respiratory infections in infants.17, 18 One-month old, healthy infants were supplemented with BB-12® at 10 billion CFU/day or with placebo until they were 8 months old. The infants supplemented with BB-12® had a significantly reduced risk of respiratory infections compared to placebo (65% vs 94%, P=0.014).17
Following the initial analysis, the same infants continued in their original treatment groups (placebo, or BB-12® at 10 billion CFU/day) until they were 2 years old. A similar effect was observed; the infants in the BB-12® group had significantly fewer RTIs than those in the placebo group. The risk of respiratory infections was 87% in the infants supplemented with BB-12® and 100% in placebo (P=0.033).18
Click to read more about the Chr. Hansen BB-12® strain
As discussed in this article, the LGG® and BB-12® strains can be effective at supporting respiratory health in infants and children.
Read about and what to look for when choosing a probiotic.
LGG® and BB-12® are registered trademarks of Chr. Hansen A/S.
The article is provided for informational purposes regarding probiotics and is not meant to suggest that any substance referenced in the article is intended to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent any disease.
The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium, BB-12® is the world’s most documented probiotic bifidobacterium. It has been extensively studied and has been associated with improved outcomes across various health areas.
BB-12® is a trademark of Chr. Hansen A/S
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