Background: Specific probiotic bacteria have proven to be effective in the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases in early life in at-risk populations. The impact of administration of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 (BB-12) on the risk of acute infectious diseases was studied in healthy children.
Methods: In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 109 1-mo-old infants were assigned randomly to a probiotic group receiving a BB-12-containing tablet (n = 55) or a placebo (n = 54). Test tablets were administered to the infants twice a day (daily dose of BB-12 10 billion colony-forming units) until the age of 2 y with a novel slow-release pacifier or a spoon. Breastfeeding habits, pacifier use, dietary habits, medications, and all signs and symptoms of acute infections were registered in diaries by parents and in questionnaires by trained professionals.
Results: The infants receiving BB-12 were reported to have experienced fewer respiratory tract infections (RTIs; 87 vs. 100%; risk ratio: 0.87; 95% confidence interval: 0.76, 1.00; P = 0.033) than the controls. No significant differences between the groups were observed in reported gastrointestinal symptoms, otitis media, or fever. The baseline characteristics of the two groups were similar, as was the duration of breastfeeding.
Conclusion: Administration of BB-12 in early childhood may reduce RTIs.