Yogurt Drink Reduces Daycare Illness

Researchers have concluded that a probiotic yogurt drink called DanActive can reduce the rate at which kids in daycare develop common illnesses like diarrhea, flu, sinusitis, and ear infections. These researchers conducted the largest U.S. clinical trial on probiotics thus far. However, another finding seems almost contradictory and suggests that children who drank DanActive had no reduction in missed school days.

The study was underwritten by The Dannon Company, Inc., and was led by Daniel Merenstein of the Georgetown University School of Medicine (GUSOM). The results of this study have been published in the online European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Increasing Popularity

Probiotic foods have enjoyed increasing popularity and are marketed as having certain health benefits due to probiotic ingredients such as Lactobacillus casei DN-114 001, the main probiotic ingredient contained in DanActive. Previous studies coming out of other nations have shown that the live micro-organisms known as probiotics can boost children's health and reduce the number of missed school days. But these trials were conducted on foreign soil under less than ideal circumstances, not at all resembling the everyday lives of children in the U.S.

Merenstein, who is the director of research for GUSOM's Department of Family Medicine said, "We were interested in a study that resembled how children in the U.S. consume drinks that are stored in home refrigerators and consumed without study personnel observation."

Not Medicine

The authors stated that this is the biggest trial on probiotics within the U.S. and adds some very important data to the little that was known until this time. The researchers stress that probiotics are food and not medicine, so parents are happy to give it to their kids without consulting physicians. Therefore, the researchers felt it best to test the drink under homelike circumstances.

The randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study (in other words, the study was of top-notch design quality) was titled DRINK, an acronym that stands for: Decreasing the Rates of Illness in Kids and included 638 kids age 3-6, all healthy, and all in school five days a week.

Strawberry-Flavored Drink

The parents of the participants gave their kids the strawberry-flavored drink each day. Some of the drinks contained the probiotics while the other drinks contained no such ingredient and served as placebos. The parents and children were not told which drink they had used until the study was over. Parents were interviewed by phone and kept daily health diaries on their children, listing the number of drinks the children consumed.

The researchers discovered that there was a 19% decrease in common infectious ailments among the kids who had drunk the drink containing the probiotic. More to the point, the kids who drank the probiotic-containing drink had a 24% reduction in gastrointestinal ailments and 18% fewer upper respiratory infections. But there was no concurrent reduction in the number of missed school days.