BioGaia comment on article in The New York Times

The article “The problem with probiotics” raises several important issues with probiotics but also contains flaws. BioGaia has commented on the article.

Note to the editor,

As Corporate Communications Manager at BioGaia, a Swedish healthcare company active in probiotic research since 1990, I wish to express our concerns about the article by Aaron E. Carroll, “The problem with probiotics”.

The unregulated probiotic market is undoubtedly causing confusion for authorities, healthcare professionals as well as consumers. Nevertheless, there are high-quality, probiotic products, with good support in clinical trials. In this article, Prof Carroll mentions a few examples from the literature where no significant effects have been shown but neglects to mention the numerous clinical studies showing beneficial effect for specific probiotic strains.

One example is colic, a condition that has been extensively researched:

The author claims that clinical studies have shown that “probiotics” do not have an effect in colicky infants and to support his point he refers to one single study in which significant effect was not proven. However, he omits the six other independent randomized placebo-controlled clinical studies that have been published, all showing that Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 is efficient in treating infantile colic. Four international clinical guidelines recommend L. reuteri DSM 17938 for the treatment of infantile colic. In addition, two studies have shown that colic can be prevented by taking L. reuteri DSM 17938 from day of birth. This extensive data has been summarized in numerous review articles and nine meta-analyzes, all coming to the same conclusion, L. reuteri DSM 17938 helps children suffering from colic.

The field of probiotics is developing at a rapid pace and there is definitely a need for clear regulation to ensure that available probiotics are safe and effective. Our concern with this article is the lack of objectivity. If you are interested in learning more about the field of probiotics, we recommend contacting organizations such as ISAPP and IPA.