Probiotics may help with CF symptoms

A new study suggests probiotics can significantly improve the life of children with cystic fibrosis.

Probiotics may help improve the quality of life of children with cystic fibrosis.

Cystic fibrosis, or CF, is a genetic disease of the body's mucus and sweat glands. The disease gradually gets worse over time and is usually fatal. On average, people with cystic fibrosis live about 30 years. About 30,000 Americans have cystic fibrosis at any given time, according to the National Institute of Health. 12 million more Americans are carriers of cystic fibrosis, but are not affected by it.

Researchers wanted to study whether daily probiotic supplements could help with conditions brought on as side effects of treatments patients received for the disease. The natural systems of microbes in patients’ intestines are often disrupted from the massive amounts of antibiotic they take, which also interfere with their immune systems.

In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, 37 cystic fibrosis patients between the ages of two and twelve received either a dose of probiotics or a placebo each day for a month. Researchers evaluated their quality of life at the beginning of the trial and then three and six months after the treatment using the PedsQL 4.0 questionnaire.

The children who took the probiotics experienced a “significant” improvement in their quality of life, according to a story about the research in The study itself was published in the Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. The rate of pulmonary exacerbation among patients who had taken the probiotics was also “reduced significantly.” Six months after their month of probiotics, however, the positive effects wore off, suggesting continued treatment is necessary.

Other recent cystic fibrosis research suggests vitamin D may help children with the disease. Researchers at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Louisiana State University School of Medicine found that the vitamin may be an effective therapy to treat and even prevent allergy to a common mold that can cause severe complications for patients with cystic fibrosis.

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