A devastating lung disease which strikes in childhood, cystic fibrosis causes recurrent airway infections. Treatment involves copious antibiotics; this leads to disturbed microbial populations.
Could probiotics help?
A pilot study in Israel found that probiotics reduced pulmonary exacerbation rates in patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). Ten CF patients were supplemented with Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for six months. This confirms earlier observations from a pilot study in Italy where 38 subjects were randomly assigned to receve L. rhamnosus GG or placebo for six months in a cross over design.
In another small study in Spain, the same strain given twice daily over four weeks improved intestinal function.
And in a new study reported in December 2013 37 CF patients at Dr. Sheikh Pediatric Hospital in Mashhad, Iran were randomly divided: 20 patients took a 7 strain probiotic preparation while 17 took a placebo. The results were promising: rate of pulmonary exacerbation was reduced and quality of life improved in those taking probiotics.
These studies are promissing, but have in common that they involve small numbers of patients. Because of these promissing results, a study with a larger number of subjects is certainly warrented to more firmly establish the potential relief probiotics may provide to this patient group.