Specifically, there was a significant 31% reduction in the frequency of days with URTI symptoms following the bovine intakes, when compared to the placebo group.
The effect was noted to last until the 20th day of intervention, with no significant side effects, suggesting that it was well-tolerated in the children.
The Polish researchers state: “Our study provides the first solid RCT-based evidence that bovine colostrum can be effectively used to prevent and decrease the gravity of URTIs in pre-school children.
“Overall, it can be concluded that our typical mild (15 days 2 × 500 mg + 30 days 1 × 500 mg) pre-seasonal supplementation with bovine colostrum provides significant protection to pre-school children from both frequency and gravity of URTIs over 140 days (20 weeks) of the fall/winter infectious season,” they add.
URTIs are a common health issue amongst children, typically occurring 3-8 times a year. Despite the mild symptoms that characterise the conditions, they can result in a number of school day, and thus, workday losses. Due to their significant economic burden, the interest in reducing the number and severity of such conditions has been a long-established area of interest.
Natural preventative interventions such as plant-based extracts and probiotic supplements, as well as vitamins and minerals have shown promising results in clinical tests. Yet, some doubts still remain with regards to their efficacy. In addition, pharmacology interventions mainly focus on symptomatic treatments to reduce pain and fever.
Bovine colostrum has been reported to have significant effects on immunity, yet studies investigating this remain limited. Specifically, previous evidence has demonstrated its strong potential for the prevention of URTIs in children.
Thus, the researchers sought to investigate the efficacy of bovine clostridium in the prevention of URTIs in healthy children within an RCT.
The researchers recruited 57 pre-school children aged 3-7 years of age from a large public kindergarten facility in Poland. Participants were randomly assigned to either receive the bovine colostrum supplement COL or the PBO placebo of dried whey, taking two supplements for the first 15 days and one for the next 30 days.
The COL sachets contained a mixture of 500 mg of freeze-dried bovine colostrum obtained within 2 h after calf delivery, mixed with 500 mg of dried banana powder. The PBO doses consisted of 500 mg of spray-dried whey mixed with 500 mg of dried-out banana.
Subsequent information on the health status and frequency and gravity of URTI symptoms, as well as abdominal side effects, were obtained through an online survey.
It was observed that colostrum resulted in a significant 31% reduction in the frequency of days with URTI symptoms; an effect that lasted until the 20th week of intervention. When considering the gravity of symptoms within the analysis, the median reduction reached 37%.
In addition, the number of episodes, defined as 3 consecutive days of second degree of URTI gravity separated from other episodes by at least 3 days, was reduced in the COL group by 50% as compared to the PBO group over the entire 21-week period.
There were no significant side effects reported during the intervention period, suggesting that it was well-tolerated amongst the children.
“Colostrum supplementation in pre-school children is well tolerated, safe and provides protection from frequency of URTIs and their gravity,” the report concludes.
The researchers hypothesise that the effect is attributed to the modulation of the adaptive immune system by colostrum and its individual components, including lactoferrin, proline-rich polypeptide, cytokines, and growth factors.
“Colostrum has been repeatedly proven to be among the most efficient products capable of restoring and maintaining intestinal homeostasis. COL is known to have high healing potential, probably due to its high EGF (epidermal growth factor) and VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) content,” they add.
Yet, the researchers note the small sample size and urge for the area to be further investigated.
“Six Weeks of Supplementation with Bovine Colostrum Effectively Reduces URTIs Symptoms Frequency and Gravity for Up to 20 Weeks in Pre-School Children”
by Maciej Hałasa, Karolina Skonieczna-Żydecka, Bogusław Machaliński, Leonard Bühner and Magdalena Baśkiewicz-Hałasa