Earlier this year the researchers published a study showing colostrum reduced the risk of URTIs in young adults who were exposed to an heightened risk of infection in a medical environment.
Now the researchers have completed a similar study on pre-school aged children. This study also showed that colostrum provided significant protection. Specifically, when compared to the placebo group, children who were fortified with bovine colostrum ahead of the “winter infection season” enjoyed a significant 31% reduction in the number of days with URTI symptoms.
The study, a random control trial, also reported no significant side effects during the six-week treatment period—suggesting that colostrum supplements are well-tolerated in young children.
“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,” the researchers wrote.
Colostrum is the first milk produced post-partum by mammals and is compositionally distinct from mature milk.
Since it is produced during the first few days after giving birth, it has a unique composition of essential nutrients, growth factors, antibodies and oligosaccharides that benefit the newborn.
Because of these extra-potent nutrients, especially in regards to immune support, bovine colostrum has a long history of consumption by humans.
There have been a number of studies investigating its potential for applications in human health—from muscle building to maintaining a strong immune system. It has been used in nutritional supplement for decades, both as a stand-alone nutrient and as part of a formula.
In the new study, the immune-building properties were commented on by the researchers in explaining the purpose of their research: “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.”
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 or a placebo of dried whey.
The participants took two supplements for the first 15 days and one for the next 30 days.
The bovine supplements contained a mixture of 500 mg of freeze-dried bovine colostrum. This colostrum was certified to have been obtained within two hours after calf delivery. The colostrum powder was also mixed with 500 mg of dried banana powder, which helped in standardizing taste for study control purposes.
The placebo powder also consisted of 500 mg of dried banana powder, along with the whey powder.
The children were then monitored on health status and frequency and gravity of URTI symptoms. Additionally, abdominal side effects were also monitored.
It was observed that colostrum resulted in a significant 31% reduction in the frequency of days with URTI symptoms. This effect 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 “URTI episodes” separated from other episodes by at least three days, was reduced in the colostrum group by 50% over the entire 21-week period. An “episode” was defined as three consecutive days of second degree URTI gravity.
“Colostrum supplementation in pre-school children is well tolerated, safe and provides protection from frequency of URTIs and their gravity,” the researchers wrote in the study’s conclusion.
“Overall, it can be concluded that our typical mild 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.”
The study was published in Nutrients in August 2023.
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