British Journal of Nutrition

Human and Clinical Nutrition

Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 in reducing the risk of infections in infancy

Teemu Taipalea1 c1, Kaisu Pienihäkkinena2, Erika Isolauria3, Charlotte Larsena4, Elke Brockmanna4, Pentti Alanena2, Jorma Jokelaa1 and Eva Söderlinga2

a1 Korpilahti-Muurame Health Care Center, 40950 Muurame, Finland

a2 Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, 20520 Turku, Finland

a3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland

a4 Chr. Hansen A/S, 2970 Hoersholm, Denmark


The impact of controlled administration of Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 (BB-12) on the risk of acute infectious diseases was studied in healthy newborn infants. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 109 newborn 1-month-old infants were assigned randomly to a probiotic group receiving a BB-12-containing tablet (n 55) or to a control group receiving a control tablet (n 54). Test tablets were administered to the infants twice a day (daily dose of BB-12 10 billion colony-forming units) from the age of 1–2 months to 8 months with a novel slow-release pacifier or a spoon. Breastfeeding habits, pacifier use, dietary habits, medications and all signs and symptoms of acute infections were registered. At the age of 8 months, faecal samples were collected for BB-12 determination (quantitative PCR method). The baseline characteristics of the two groups were similar, as was the duration of exclusive breastfeeding. BB-12 was recovered (detection limit log 5) in the faeces of 62 % of the infants receiving the BB-12 tablet. The daily duration of pacifier sucking was not associated with the occurrence of acute otitis media. No significant differences between the groups were observed in reported gastrointestinal symptoms, otitis media or use of antibiotics. However, the infants receiving BB-12 were reported to have experienced fewer respiratory infections (65 v. 94 %; risk ratio 0·69; 95 % CI 0·53, 0·89; P = 0·014) than the control infants. Controlled administration of BB-12 in early childhood may reduce respiratory infections.

(Received March 02 2010)

(Revised July 20 2010)

(Accepted August 17 2010)

(Online publication September 24 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Dr T. Taipale, fax +358 14 266 2770, email


Abbreviations: AOM, acute otitis media; BB-12, Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12; GI, gastrointestinal