Probiotic Benefits For Kids
Most children, even healthy kids, benefit from taking a high-quality probiotic.
Upon birth, the infant gut gets populated with gut bacteria during vaginal delivery and through the mothers breast milk. If an infant is delivered via c-section, has to take antibiotics, or receives infant formula, the infants gut is often not populated with the same amount of good bacteria and lacks bacteria diversity. This can lead to digestive issues during infancy, as well as issues such as allergies, eczema and a weakened immune system later in life.
In addition, modern-day life poses many stress factors for our gut bacteria. Sugar, processed foods, food additives, and stress can all kill our good gut bacteria. Your child will benefit especially if he/she is experiencing frequent illnesses, food allergies, digestive issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
If your child is taking antibiotics, use of probiotics is essential. Antibiotics kill the bad bacteria that are making your child sick, but they also kill many of the good gut bacteria that are necessary for overall health. This can result in antibiotic-associated diarrhea and other uncomfortable, digestive side effects of antibiotics. Probiotics help restore these good bacteria.
Can Probiotics Hurt Me
For most healthy people, probiotics dont cause any harm. They are generally considered safe and are often given a try to see if they could help with various medical conditions. Theres a lot of research around the topic of probiotics. Scientists are trying to determine when and how they should be used, as well as how effective they are. Talk to your healthcare provider before starting a probiotic supplement because there are some cases where you shouldnt be taking them. Its always best to have the conversation first before starting a new supplement.
Do I Need To Take Probiotics After I Take Antibiotics
Antibiotic medications are often needed to fight an infection. However, while antibiotics are killing the bad bacteria, they are also knocking out the good bacteria in your body. Some people develop conditions like diarrhea after taking an antibiotic. In other people, this may allow for really bad bacteria to take over and populate the gut, such as with C. diff. Some research has shown a positive connection between taking probiotics after an antibiotic and relief from diarrhea. This hasnt been proven yet and doesnt work for everyone.
The thought behind adding probiotics back into your body after taking an antibiotic is that it can repopulate the good bacteria that was destroyed by the antibiotics and re-boot your system. The extra good bacteria helps repopulate your gut and fight off any remaining bad bacteria. Many people feel that adding in probiotics wont hurt, might help you feel better a little faster and prevent diarrhea.
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Yogurt Reduces Your Baby’s Risk Of Developing Eczema And Allergies
A New Zealand research team recently discovered that eating yogurt daily by age one decreased eczema and allergies in babies by up to 70%. While the AAP recommends waiting to introduce cow’s milk to a baby’s diet until age one, other milk-based products like cheese and yogurt are safe earlier. And the new study found that the more regularly yogurt was served, the greater the effect at preventing allergies. Pass the yogurt, please!
Can I Use Probiotics To Help With Medical Conditions
There is currently a large amount of research happening around the idea of what probiotics can do for your body. Even though there are a lot of possibly positive outcomes, researchers are still working to find definitive answers about how probiotics can help with various conditions.
However, there are some medical conditions where probiotics may help. This can vary between people meaning that what works for one person may not work for another. These can also vary based on the certain probiotic that is taken.
Some of the conditions that might be helped by increasing the amount of probiotics in your body include:
- Upper respiratory infections .
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Should Children Eat Probiotic Foods
Some studies suggest that probiotics may be good for children. One study found that children who were given probiotics every day for 3 months were less likely to have respiratory problems and diarrhea than children who were given a placebo.
And while more research is needed, probiotics may reduce childrens risk of developing certain conditions like autoimmune diseases, allergies and asthma.
On the other hand, some researchers note that probiotics may not have much effect on children. Because their microbiome isnt fully developed, probiotics may simply be passed as normal waste.
Probiotics are considered safe for kids with some exceptions, notes Dr. Drass. You should avoid giving your child probiotics if they have a compromised immune system or cancer, or if they are a premature infant. In these cases, probiotics can put them at risk for infections.
In general, its better for kids to get probiotics through foods instead of supplements unless their pediatrician recommends otherwise. Talk to your childs doctor if youre thinking about using probiotics to help your childs digestion because keeping your child safe and healthy is their prime concern.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Probiotics
Probiotics have been shown to improve symptoms in IBS, travellers diarrhoea and the duration of antibiotic associated diarrhoea. There is emerging evidence that probiotics may improve cholesterol levels in people with type II diabetes, and could play a role in benefitting cold or flu outcomes during stressful periods. However, these are very small studies and more research is needed before robust recommendations can be made.
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Probiotics Can Help Prevent And Treat Diarrhea
Probiotics are widely known for their ability to prevent diarrhea or reduce its severity.
Diarrhea is a common side effect of taking antibiotics. It occurs because antibiotics can negatively affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut (
A review of 15 human studies found supplementing with Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains for 12 months can improve anxiety, depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and memory .
One study followed 70 chemical workers for 6 weeks. Those who consumed 100 grams of probiotic yogurt per day or took a daily probiotic capsule experienced benefits for general health, depression, anxiety and stress .
Benefits were also seen in a study of 40 patients with depression.
Taking probiotic supplements for 8 weeks decreased depression levels and reduced levels of C-reactive protein and hormones such as insulin, compared to people who did not take a probiotic .
Research shows taking probiotics may help improve symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, stress and memory, among others.
Which Are Best For Toddlers
All are suitable but if you have a fussy eater the best option may be the gummies or chewable types.
Alflorex is a chalky chewable tablet suitable from age 3
Up4 Probiotics Kids Cubes are gummies suitable for aged 3 plus
Ultimate Flora Kids are chewable and are suitable for aged 2 plus.
All three of these probiotics may help with constipation.
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Probiotic Yoghurt For Kids
Probiotic yoghurts from the supermarkets can be a popular choice with kids, but some are healthier than others! Many yoghurts and yoghurt drinks are very high in sugar, or contain artificial sweeteners which may have negative effects on the gut microbiome24. Some yoghurts may not even contain any live cultures at all! Find out everything you need to know about choosing the healthiest yoghurts and fermented drinks in our helpful article.
How Probiotics Might Be Bad For You
Because these good bacteria already exist in the body, theyâre considered safe for most people. But there are some things to consider.
They can trigger an allergic reaction. They might cause mild stomach problems, especially the first few days you start taking them. You might have stomach upset, gas, diarrhea, or bloating. Those symptoms usually go away after your body gets used to them.
If you have an immune system problem or another serious health condition, you may have a greater chance of issues. Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems, people who’ve had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Don’t take probiotics if you have any of those issues.
Always talk to your pediatrician before giving probiotic supplements to your child. If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should also talk to your doctor before you try one.
Most probiotics in the U.S. are sold as dietary supplements. That means the companies that make them don’t have to test their products and show that they work or that they are safe. More research is needed to confirm that probiotics are safe and effective.
Ask your doctor which probiotics are the right ones for you. Be sure to stop taking them if you have any problems.
Which Is Better: Probiotic Supplements Vs Probiotic Foods
In most supermarkets, you can find a wide range of probiotic food products and drinks. Examples include yogurt, fermented vegetables such as Sauerkraut, yogurt-alternatives, Kefir and Kombucha. All of these items are made in a fermentation process using live, active bacteria. However, there are several challenges with probiotic foods and drinks.
The bacteria used for the fermentation process are often not human bacteria. In yogurt, for example, the bacteria are usually cow bacteria. This means that they dont settle down in your gut and leave your body via your stool.
Fermented foods and drinks often sit on the shelf for a long time before you ingest them. As a result, the bacteria in the product may already be dead or at a life stage where they cant deliver their full benefits.
The bacteria also have to pass through the acidic environment in your stomach. Stomach acid kills many of these good bacteria, especially if they are already at an aged stage because they sat on the shelf for a few days or weeks.
Some of these live bacteria also make it into your intestine where they may have some positive effect. However, taking a high-quality probiotic supplement is a much more effective way to improve your gut health.
Can Probiotics Cause Side Effects In Children
Because probiotics are not regulated or tested by the Food and Drug Administration , it’s unclear if they cause side effects like gas, constipation or diarrhea. If your child begins to have these issues after they start taking probiotics, you should stop the probiotics to see if the symptoms go away.
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What Has Science Shown About The Effectiveness Of Probiotics For Health Conditions
A great deal of research has been done on probiotics, but much remains to be learned about whether theyâre helpful and safe for various health conditions.
Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea , prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.
However, in most instances, we still donât know which probiotics are helpful and which are not. We also donât know how much of the probiotic people would have to take or who would be most likely to benefit. Even for the conditions that have been studied the most, researchers are still working toward finding the answers to these questions.
The following sections summarize the research on probiotics for some of the conditions for which theyâve been studied.
Should You Start Your Child On A Probiotic Diet Or On Supplements
Most kids benefit from a probiotic supplement. There are many factors in modern life that can disrupt your childs gut health. This includes frequent antibiotics, food additives, sugar, processed foods and stress. Probiotics are especially helpful for kids who suffer from digestive issues and who are prone to allergies and frequent illnesses.
Many parents wonder whether to incorporate fermented foods into their kids diet. These foods contain some live bacteria and yeasts, which may provide health benefits. Fermented foods also increase the diversity of foods for your microbiome, which can have benefits. However, they are not the same as taking a targeted probiotic supplement.
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What Are The Most Common Types Of Probiotic Bacteria
Though there are many types of bacteria that can be considered probiotics, there are two specific types of bacteria that are common probiotics found in stores. These include:
Probiotics are also made up of good yeast. The most common type of yeast found in probiotics is:
- Saccharomyces boulardii.
Promotes A Healthy Immune System
Even generally healthy people get sick on occasion. Probiotic supplements can help minimize these occurrences. Several strains of probiotics boost your immune system and help you fight infections such as flu and the common cold. A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies found that probiotics like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium were effective in lessening the duration of acute respiratory infectious conditions, both in adults and children.
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Can Probiotic Supplements Be Given To Toddlers
Yes, probiotics are generally considered safe for healthy toddlers and even infants . Still, its smart to ask your pediatrician which bacteria strain or brand of probiotics you should give your child especially if you want to give him a supplement.
The reason: Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration , so there can be a lot of variability in manufacturing, and it can be hard to know exactly what youre getting .
While youre at it, ask your pediatrician how frequently you should give a probiotic supplement to your toddler especially if the package instructions are unclear.
Powder Probiotics For Kids
Many probiotics come in a powder or sachet format. This can be particularly useful as children often dont like to swallow capsules. The powder can be easily hidden in their favourite foods or drinks, e.g. in their breakfast cereal or yoghurt.
Optibac Babies & Children powder contains three strains, Bifidobacterium breve M-16V®, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, and Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, which have been extensively researched for gut and immune health in children. This probiotic powder comes in handy sachets the powder can be sprinkled onto any cool, non-acidic breakfast food.
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Now Supplements Berry Dophilus Kids Chewables
The kids version of this brands popular BerryDophilus product comes packed with 10 different strains of bacteria. These strains are meant to help with tummy troubles, of course, but they also may aid in nutrient absorption. Kids ages 1 and up can take this chewable tabletalthough youll want to break it up into food depending on age since it could be harder for younger kids to chew.
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Are They Safe Do They Really Work What Does The Research Say
Although widely researched for use by adults, there are few studies into probiotic use in children, with quite mixed results, making it hard to decipher whether they are indeed beneficial for your little ones.
Research suggests they could be useful for those at risk of allergic diseases like eczema. And they could even aid in respiratory infection and antibiotic-associated diarrhoea.
A popular use of probiotics in children is for treatment of infant colic. But research shows limited efficacy here. A 2014 randomised-control trial using a community-based sample in Melbourne found that probiotics did not benefit infants with colic.
Lets take a closer look at the evidence for some other reasons why you might give probiotics to your kids.
How Might Probiotics Work
Probiotics may have a variety of effects in the body, and different probiotics may act in different ways.
- Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your bodyâs community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
- Produce substances that have desirable effects
- Influence your bodyâs immune response.
Should My Child Take Probiotics After Antibiotics
For some children, antibiotics can change the balance of bacteria in their gut, which can cause diarrhoea. There is some evidence that the same probiotic strains Lactobacillus Rhamnosus and Saccharomyces Boulardii, thought to help diarrhoea after tummy bugs, may also help prevent diarrhoea caused by antibiotics in some children .
However, this does not seem to help all children and researchers are unsure why this is the case. As probiotics arent harmful, you could consider trying them to see if they help your little one.
There is stronger evidence to show probiotic supplements may shorten the length of time diarrhoea continues for after a course of antibiotics .
How Probiotic Bacteria Function
Probiotic bacteria in our gut perform a wider range of functions. They support digestion and elimination, theyre a critical part of the immune system, metabolize neurotransmitters and hormones, and communicate directly with the brain to affect mood and cognition.
Unfortunately, modern life with antibiotics, processed foods, sugar, food additives and stress can all disrupt the healthy balance of our beneficial gut bacteria. Probiotic dietary supplements add these beneficial microbes back into our gut.
Its important to remember that different probiotic strains perform different functions. Its not a one size fits all. Certain probiotic strains are well-known to inhibit the growth of pathogens , whereas others support immune function or help with constipation.
Should I Give Probiotics To My Kids
Probiotics can be beneficial for both adults and kids. If your child has an illness that requires an antibiotic medication for treatment, taking a probiotic can help shorten symptoms. Probiotics can also be used to help relieve constipation, acid reflux, diarrhea, gas and eczema in children.
Introducing probiotics into your childs diet through food is typically a safe way to give them probiotics. Foods like yogurt and cottage cheese are often part of a balanced diet and can add in good bacteria without much risk.
There are commercially available probiotic supplements specifically designed for infants and children. However, it is important to talk to your childs pediatrician before giving them any probiotic supplement or changing the childs diet to include probiotic-rich foods.
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