Probiotics and the Child’s Immune System

Playing in the dirt, interacting with their friends, eating things from the floor – children are bound to catch a stomach bug at some point or another. And with that stomach bug is nasty diarrhea – which is extremely unpleasant for both the child astomach illustrationnd yourself as the parent. However, the use of probiotics may be helpful in reducing and preventing these kinds of symptoms!

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that are typically non-harmful and non-pathogenic when found in a healthy human gut. When consumed in adequate amounts, they become part of the human gut’s “good bacteria” population in the colon and can help defend the body from harmful bacteria.

How do probiotics specifically help children?

Probiotics help children maintain a strong gut immune system by supporting the existing good bacteria population. Probiotics compete with the bad pathogenic bacteria by taking up room in the gut lining and creating an undesirable acidic environment for pathogenic colonization.

tummy buddy vs tummy baddy

There is good evidence that, if used correctly, probiotics can:

  • Prevent Antibiotic associated diarrhea
  • Reduce the duration of acute infectious viral diarrhea (if taken < 48hr from onset)

There is emerging evidence that probiotics help to reduce symptoms of Colic and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and prevent atopic conditions but more studies are required

What kind of probiotic products are available for babies?

If unsure as to which product is best for your child, ask your pediatrician.

probiotics graphic

We can also find probiotics in foods. The most common source of probiotics is yogurt – Look for yogurt brands that contain “live active cultures” or specifically advertise containing LGG (Lactobacillus LGG). Other sources of probiotics include fermented dairy drinks and soy products (soy milk, miso, tempeh).  While Lactobacillus has been the most well studied, products with other combinations may work just as well.

What are recommended doses of probiotics for children?

In past studies, probiotic regimen doses for children have ranged from 10×109 to 40×109 CFU/day. This amount is similar to the daily recommendations of several probiotic products For example, a recommended one serving of DanActive Liquid Yogurt ≈ 10×109 CFU/day. Ask your pediatrician about when to initiate probiotics and how long your child should take them for.


Categories: Ask A Pediatrician

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