64% of mums in Ireland miss work due to everyday childhood illnesses

Parents can protect their children from illness and dramatically reduce the number of school days missed as a result of everyday sniffles, sneezes and bugs with a new supplement loaded with gut friendly probiotics proven to boose childhood immunity.

Pro-Ven Fit for School is specially formulated for children aged 4-16 to help maintain immune function and general wellbeing and proven to reduce absenteeism from school by 30 per cent. The probiotics are chewable, strawberry flavoured tablets designed specifically for children, containing 12.5 billion Lab4 friendly bacteria per tablet together with vitamin C, as well as being vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and dairy free.

Parents can also reduce their own stress levels by ensuring they have to spend less time off work looking after children forced to miss school as a result of everyday illnesses by using the Pro-Ven probiotic which is now available in pharmacies across Ireland.

According to new research just under half of all children (43 per cent) miss at least four days of school each year with more than half of impacted parents (53 per cent) having to take time off work to look after them as a result.

While a changed work environment as a result of the pandemic has meant that many parents are now able to continue working from home while caring for sick children, in pre-Covid times almost three quarters of parents (73 per cent) said they were forced to miss work as a result of the colds, coughs and other bugs picked up by their children.

75% of parents have a plan in place if their child has to miss school but the responsibility is far more likely to fall to mothers, the research suggests with 64 per cent of mothers caring for sick children, compared to 26 per cent of fathers, even less than grandparents at 28 per cent.

The survey also points to some significant changes as a result of the pandemic with 77 per cent of parents saying their children were sick less often during periods of lockdowns with 61 per cent saying their child suffered no illnesses while home schooling.

The most common ailment suffered by children is a head cold with 64 per cent of parents saying it was the reason their children missed school. Children are particularly susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) due to the immaturity of their immune systems and the majority of parents cited coughs and colds as the most common cause of children being kept home from school and adults missing work to care for them.

The relatively mild illnesses also account for up to half of all GP visits for the under eights with as many as one third of young patients being prescribed antibiotics even though such medications are ineffective for viral conditions and overuse promotes antibiotic resistance.

Dr Nigel Plummer, founder of Pro-Ven Probiotics comments, “Whilst adults suffer an average of two to three upper respiratory tract infections a year, children have between three and eight and more in younger age groups. Contact with groups of friends in the classroom at school can provide the perfect environment for unwanted bugs and illnesses to thrive, particularly in the winter months when the windows are closed and there’s less chance to spend time outdoors.

“Children are more likely to be in close contact with each other than adults, to share toys and games and to put their hands to their face and mouths more frequently. Children are also less likely to wash their hands properly or put their hands over their mouths when coughing and sneezing.

“There is a growing body of evidence which indicates that supplementation of friendly bacteria through the winter months is effective in reducing the incidence and duration of coughs and colds in adults and most especially in children.”

In the two studies carried out by Pro-Ven, the first in 2014, the second completed in 2019 in the last 12 months, the probiotic was taken daily for six months by half of the children aged between 3 and 10 over a six-month period through autumn and winter, whilst the other half took a dummy tablet (placebo).

The study showed that six months’ daily supplementation with Lab4 probiotic and vitamin C reduces the incidence of coughing, absenteeism and antibiotic usage in children aged 3-10 years, as well as the following:

  • Significant reduction in the incidence rate of coughing and sore throats in the group taking Lab4 probiotics and vitamin C compared to placebo.
  • The time to first episode of cough and sore throat in the probiotics group was longer than that for the placebo group from about 10 days into the trial – tested using the Kaplan-Meier method.
  • The total number of URTI symptoms experienced was lower in the probiotics group compared to the placebo group.
  • The average number of days with sore throats was 33% lower in the active group compared to the placebo group.
  • There was a 16% reduction in absenteeism from school in the probiotic/vitamin C supplemented children compared to the placebo group.
  • There was 27% lower use of antibiotics in the probiotics group compared with the placebo group.

Dr Nigel Plummer continues, “As well as the above findings, the children taking the probiotic also needed less medication, such as cough syrup and nasal sprays, during the studies compared with those taking the placebo. In the UK, the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) has indicated that these over-the-counter medications should not be used in children under six years of age, as they have little evidence of effect and may cause side effects.

”In summary the beneficial outcomes of the studies strongly indicate that as children are less sick, they have less time off school, require less medication, have less visits to the doctor, hence less antibiotic prescriptions – all in all, that’s good news for everyone’

These findings provide real substance to the claim that probiotics are more effective than other nutrients such as vitamins C and D and zinc, which are commonly recommended for reducing risk and duration of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s) and strengthening the immune system in general.

The Pro-Ven Fit for School range is available from pharmacies nationwide, including Allcare Pharmacy, Life Pharmacy, Hickey’s Pharmacy, McCauley’s Pharmacy, CarePlus Pharmacy, Adrian Dunne Pharmacy and Haven Pharmacy.