Probiotics may reduce children’s throat infection rate

Industry-funded study shows probiotics can reduce children's throat infections

Children with a history of recurrent streptococcal and viral throat infections could benefit from oral probiotics, according to Italian research.

During a 90-day trial, the 30 children taking the probiotic Streptococcus salivarius K12 tablets were shown to have significantly less episodes of streptococcal pharyngeal infection when compared to the infection rates of the previous year. No difference was observed in the control group.

The probiotic group showed an 80% decrease in the incidence of oral viral infections, with a reduction rate of about 14% in the control group. 

The researchers said this resulted in a decrease of days taken off school and work as well as the antibiotics and antipyretic treatment required by the children.

Saliva strain

Streptococcus salivarius K12 is an oral probiotic strain releasing two peptide antibiotics or lantibiotics (salivaricin A2 and salivaricin B). The researchers said this was the most important bacterial cause of pharyngeal infections in humans also affected by episodes of 'acute otitis media', or inflammation of the middle ear.

Ten of the children from the treated group had 25 infections of viral etiology in 2012, with a prevalence of 100%. In the same three months of 2013 during treatment, five infections were diagnosed in the treated children, with a prevalence of 30% (two children with two episodes each and one with one episode).

In the control group, 10 children experienced 28 viral infections in the 2012 period, with a prevalence of 100%, reduced to 24 in the corresponding quarter of 2013 with a prevalence of 100%. 

The research found that not using the probiotic strain led to 456 days of absence from school or preschool for the children and work for the parents, averaging at about 15 days per family. The researchers also pointed to the high costs of this lost work or last-minute child care.

Nonintestinal benefits

The authors said the paper was a look at probiotic’s possible nonintestinal benefits, something it suggested was often neglected by contemporary research.   

“This strain, isolated from the oral cavity through a pharyngeal swab, can colonise the oropharynx rather than the intestine and locally release the two lantibiotics (salivaricin A2 and B), which have been described as able to counteract the action of β-hemolytic streptococcus,” they said.

“The product was well tolerated by the subjects, with no side effects, and only one individual reported bad product palatability and dropped out,” the researchers wrote.

The paper acknowledged that its author Francesco Di Pierro is the main formulator of Bactoblis, the product used in the research and is involved in the scientific council of Omeopiacenza, the company that makes the probiotic. 


Source: Drug Healthc Patient Safety
Vol. 13, Iss. 6, pp. 15-20, doi: 10.2147/DHPS.S59665
Use of Streptococcus salivarius K12 in the prevention of streptococcal and viral pharyngotonsillitis in children
Authors: F. Di Pierro, M. Colombo and A. S. Rottoli

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