Parents: Tips for Preventing Winter Illness
Probiotics--health-promoting bacteria--may help prevent winter illness in children
Many of us experience colds, cough or flu during the winter months, but a new study in Therapeutic Advances in Respiratory Disease, finds that probiotics--health-promoting bacteria--may help prevent winter illness in children.
Healthy bacteria give the body a boost
Probiotics are living microorganisms or "healthy" bacteria that may help balance normal intestinal bacteria, regulate various bodily functions, and enhance a person's health. In fact, research has shown that probiotics such as lactic acid-producing bacteria may help prevent infection, reduce inflammation, and improve digestion.
This study looked at the effect of probiotics on winter illness in children and randomly assigned 135 children, ages 3 to 7 years, to receive a placebo or a daily supplement (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052, Bifidobacterium infantis R0033, Bifidobacterium bifidum R0071, and fructooligosaccharides) for three months. The participants had experienced at least three episodes of ear, nose and throat, respiratory, or gastrointestinal illness during the previous winter.
"Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria are increasingly being administered to infants with the intention of improving health and, in effect, probiotic therapies are entering the therapeutic mainstream of pediatric disease," said Mario Cazzola, MD, lead author of the study.
Further research is needed on the important topic of probiotics and health. Parents should always check with a knowledgeable pediatrician or other healthcare professional before giving their children probiotics.
Adopt a winter wellness lifestyle
(Ther Adv Respir Dis 2010;4: 271-8)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, websites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.