Research Helps Explain Link Between Probiotic Supplementation and Immune Health in Children

NEW YORK — Feb. 23, 2021 — During a time when individuals are increasingly seeking ways to keep themselves and their families healthy, a new study has shown that specific probiotics, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and Bifidobacterium animalis ssp. lactis Bi-07®, can have a significant impact on a simulated viral immune response in blood cells collected from young children taking probiotics.

Typically, viral infections result in an inflammatory response that causes symptoms of the common cold. The research team showed that 30-day probiotics supplementation resulted in a pronounced anti-inflammatory response- compared to pre-supplementation levels of cytokines- that could explain the reduced incidence of respiratory infection symptoms observed in a prior clinical trial in children with the same probiotics1. The study, a collaborative effort between IFF (formerly DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, provided probiotics supplementation to 21 children (with two of the children dropping out of the study) over a 30- day time period. The findings will be published in the Beneficial Microbes Journal.

The study was a pilot open label clinical trial where healthy children aged between 13 to 36 months consumed HOWARU® Protect Kids (10B CFU/day of L. acidophilus NCFM® and B. lactis Bi-07®) for 30 days. Investigators collected blood samples from the children at the beginning and at the end of the study. From these samples, the investigators were able to isolate immune cells called peripheral blood monocytic cells (PBMCs). These immune cells were stimulated with a molecule that mimics a respiratory virus and then the cells’ immune response (specifically cytokines and chemokines) to this stimulus was measured. The magnitude of immune response was compared between baseline prior probiotic intervention and after 30-days intervention. The probiotics product was safe and well-tolerated.

“We are thrilled to further confirm the connection between probiotic supplementation and healthy immune response in children. This research propels us to further examine how we can continue to use probiotic bacteria to stimulate innate immune response in children and adults alike,” stated Dr. Liisa Lehtoranta, R&D Manager, IFF.

“We have seen parents be very enthusiastic about giving a probiotic supplement to their children. In this study, children who took a daily probiotic supplement showed an increase in immune functions that are believed to be involved with fighting cold viruses,” stated Dr. Gregory DeMuri, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

You can read the full study at

1 Leyer GJ, Li S, Mubasher ME, Reifer C, Ouwehand AC. Probiotic effects on cold and influenza-like symptom incidence and duration in children. Pediatrics. 2009 Aug;124(2):e172-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-2666. Epub 2009 Jul 27. PMID: 19651563.


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