The research, carried out by scientists at Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM) and funded by The Dannon Company, was hailed by the authors as the largest known probiotic clinical trial to be conducted in the US.
The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 638 healthy children, aged three to six, who attended school five days a week. Parents were asked to give the children a strawberry yogurt-like drink every day for 90 days – some of which were supplemented with the probiotic strain L. casei DN-114 001 (DanActive), while others contained no probiotics (placebo).
Results were gathered from telephone interviews with parents and daily diaries they kept tracking the health of their children.
Writing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study authors, led by Daniel Merenstein, research director in the Department of Family Medicine at GUSOM, said the research revealed that the probiotic strain L. casei DN-114 001 showed “some promise in reducing overall incidences of illness”.
Researchers found that the incidence of common infections was 19 percent lower among those who drank the probiotic drink, and most promisingly, 24 percent lower for gastrointestinal infections (such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting).
However these results did not translate into any significant changes in daily life. The research uncovered no direct evidence that the probiotic drink would help prevent children from taking days off school or missing out on other activities like games and parties.
“Our study had mixed results,” said Merenstein. “Children in school or daycare are especially susceptible to these illnesses. We did find some differences in infection rates but this did not translate to fewer missed school days or change in daily activity. It is my hope that safe and tolerable ways to reduce illnesses could eventually result in fewer missed school days which means fewer work days missed by parents.”
“It is important that more of these products are put under the microscope by independent academic researchers,” he concluded.
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Use of a fermented dairy probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei (DN-114 001) to decrease the rate of illness in kids: the DRINK study
Authors: D Merenstein, M Murphy, A Fokar, RK Hernandez, H Park, H Nsouli, ME Sanders, BA Davis, V Niborski, F Tondu and NM Shara