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Probiotics and kids: What you need to know

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What are they?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. Probiotics may contain a variety of microorganisms. The most common are bacteria that belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Other bacteria may also be used as probiotics, and so may yeasts such as Saccharomyces boulardii.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulate probiotics as a dietary supplement, a food ingredient, or a drug.

pineapple next to bowl
Photo by Karley Saagi on Pexels.com

Why are they needed?

People often think of bacteria and other microorganisms as harmful “germs,” however many are actually helpful. Probiotics might:

  • Help digest food, destroy disease-causing cells, or produce vitamins.
  • Help your body maintain a healthy community of microorganisms or help your body’s community of microorganisms return to a healthy condition after being disturbed
  • Produce substances that have desirable effects
  • Influence your body’s immune response.

Probiotics have shown promise for a variety of health purposes, including prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea (including diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile), prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis and sepsis in premature infants, treatment of infant colic, treatment of periodontal disease, and induction or maintenance of remission in ulcerative colitis.

Where do you find it naturally?

Probiotics are added to some foods like yogurt and cultured cottage cheese. They are naturally occurring in fermented foods like buttermilk, kefir, and sauerkraut. Raw cheese made from unpasteurized milk is another source.

Probiotics for kids

Children develop their microbiome in the womb and through early childhood. It’s thought that an unhealthy microbiome is responsible for many diseases.

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that giving infants probiotics in the first three months of life may help prevent colic, constipation, and acid reflux.

Some decent brands for probiotics:

Side effects

Probiotics have an extensive history of apparently safe use.

  • Since long-term probiotic effects on kids are unknown, children shouldn’t use probiotic supplements as a preventive remedy, unless recommended by a doctor.
  • The risk of harmful effects from probiotics is greater in people with severe illnesses or compromised immune systems. When probiotics are being considered for high-risk individuals, such as premature infants or seriously ill hospital patients, the potential risks of probiotics should be carefully weighed against their benefits.
  • Possible harmful effects of probiotics include infections, production of harmful substances by the probiotic microorganisms, and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from probiotic microorganisms to other microorganisms in the digestive tract.
  • Some probiotic products have been reported to contain microorganisms other than those listed on the label. In some instances, these contaminants may pose serious health risks.
  • Kids with compromised immune systems may experience infection. Others may have gas and bloating. Probiotics can cause serious side effects in very sick infants. Check with your pediatrician before giving probiotic supplements to your child.

Source: Internet, CDC, NIH, FDA, Healthline, Medical News & Others

The views expressed in this article should not be considered as a substitute for a physician’s advice. Always make sure to seek a doctor or a professional’s advice before proceeding with the home treatment plan.

Author: txnaturalpediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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