Randomized controlled trial of probiotics to reduce common cold in schoolchildren

Pediatr Int. 2012 Oct;54(5):682-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-200X.2012.03647.x. Epub 2012 Jul 10.


Background: The common cold is responsible for the largest proportion of school and work absenteeism and causes a huge economic burden. None of the current interventions is greatly effective for prevention. Our aim was to assess the efficacy of a two-strain combination probiotic for prevention of common cold symptoms in healthy schoolchildren.

Methods: A double-blind randomized controlled trial was performed during the winter season in a public school of central Thailand. Children, aged 8-13 years, were randomized to receive either a two-strain combination probiotic (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum) or placebo given twice a day for 3 months. The primary outcome was any symptom of cold during the 3-month study period while vomiting, diarrhea, use of antibiotics, school absence due to any cause, school absence due to cold and duration of all symptoms were secondary outcomes.

Results: Of the 40 children in each group, 31 (77%) in the probiotic group, compared to 38 (95%) in the placebo group (P= 0.048), developed at least one symptom of cold. Children in the probiotics group had significantly lower risk of fever, cough, rhinorrhea, school absence and school absence related to common cold compared to children in the placebo group. There was no impact on diarrhea and vomiting.

Conclusion: A two-strain probiotic combination given twice a day for 3 months was able to reduce the symptoms of the common cold and school absenteeism in schoolchildren.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bifidobacterium*
  • Child
  • Common Cold / drug therapy
  • Common Cold / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus*
  • Male
  • Population
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Thailand
  • Treatment Outcome