Did you know that your GI tract is as unique as your fingerprint? So is your child’s. He has trillions of microbes living within him, as do you, but they’re not the same mix from one child to the next.
Just as is the case with antibiotics, probiotics confuse people. Each one is in some way different from the rest. One strain of probiotics will not work for all conditions or all people.
Regardless of the specific benefits, the probiotics do not build up within your child’s gut, so their effects are temporary. Once you stop giving them a probiotic, whether it comes in the medicinal form or in food, your child’s levels of microflora will simply return to what they originally were.
Are Probiotics for Children Safe?
As a parent, it’s generally a good idea to be a bit cautious when giving your child supplements. But when it comes to kid’s probiotics, they aren’t an issue.
Kid’s probiotics do not appear to cause problems for most children, which isn’t surprising when you consider that several probiotic strains are naturally found in healthy mothers’ breast milk and passed on to their children. The “donated” flora then goes on to the child’s GI tract to play an important and complex role in developing a healthy digestive and immunologic function in your child.
Overall, probiotics are safe for healthy children and most children suffering from a routine childhood illness, but they are beneficial. They’ve been shown to combat digestive upset and reduce the risk of diarrhea associated with antibiotics as well as the length of time your child has acute diarrhea.
Probiotics may be effective, too, in the prevention of diarrheal infections acquired in a community setting. They are even useful in preventing and treating atopic dermatitis.
But this does not mean that probiotics should be given to every child. Can children take probiotics safely? Probiotics could pose a risk to some children. They include children with very weakened immune systems, as well as preterm babies. If you’re considering probiotics for children who fit these descriptions, please consult your pediatrician beforehand.
Pros and Cons of Probiotics for Children
We already know that many adults use probiotic supplements to help regulate their digestive system and promote better gut health. Some even use probiotics to help with conditions like yeast infections and even eczema. However, just because the probiotic supplements you take as an adult work on you, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will work in the same way for your children.
Here are some of the pros and cons when you ask yourself, can children take probiotics?
Probiotics Are Good Bacteria
Our body is the home to billions of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. Many of these are harmless and help our body function as it should, and creates a healthy human microbiome. Probiotics are the good beneficial bacteria that make up that gut microbiome.
While we can get them in supplement form, we can also find them in certain foods we eat, like yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, and cottage cheese.
Our children most likely get a good amount of their probiotics from the yogurt they eat.
Helps with Digestion and Immune System Functions
When we take the time to replenish the good bacteria in our body, we are also helping boost our digestion and immune system functions. If your child experiences constipation or diarrhea, which is actually quite common in children, probiotics can help ease some of these symptoms.
Dietary supplements are not regulated by the Federal Food and Drug Administration, so there are no official recommendations for the dose and length of time they can be taken.
Interfere with Certain Medications
Another downside is that some probiotics for children can interfere with certain medications they may be taking. For example, if your child is going through chemotherapy or has had recent surgery, the medications they are taking can interfere.
What Dose of Probiotics for Children?
According to a 2007 study, the precise dosage of probiotics for handling common childhood infections has not yet been determined, but there are guidelines. Generally, 5-10 billion CFUs per day is adequate, and it can be increased gradually if your child doesn’t respond to lower doses.
In probiotic powders made for children, you should begin with just one baby scoop (enclosed with the product). Dissolve it in water and have your child drink it. Remain on this dosage for three to five days.
If your child isn’t getting the results you expect, raise the dosage to one baby scoop during the morning and one at bedtime. Remain at this dose level for a week. If you have questions about the amounts, contact your pediatrician.
The goal is to find the dosage that is most suitable for your child. His digestive system is unique and different from yours. You may work up to two, three, or more scoops each day. It depends on your child’s age and the results you are striving for.
So start slow and gradually ramp up. Gradual increases in dosage make it easier to determine your child’s optimum dosage.
What Are the Most Beneficial Strains of Probiotics for Children?
The Lactobacillus species include a huge range of beneficial bacteria like L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. casei, L. Plantarum, and L. gasseri and are the most studied and possibly the most vital species of probiotics.
So it’s a small wonder that these probiotics are the ones found in the greatest abundance in healthy mother’s milk. If you’re wondering which Lactobacillus probiotics would be best for children – look for a diverse combination of Lactobacillus strains for general gut health, nutrient absorption, and immunity.
Each strain has a slightly different function, so combining multiple beneficial strains creates a synergistic effect.
Special Mention: Lactobacillus Reuteri
L. reuteri probiotics have shown positive results in children. In a recent study, scientists discovered that giving children five drops of L. reuteri was therapeutic for acute children’s rotavirus diarrhea. It’s also been proven effective treatment against infant colic, with babies given L. reuteri showing a 50% decrease in time spent crying.
There’s a range of Bifidobacteria probiotic strains, including B. bifidum, B. longum, B. infantis, and B. lactis, and they’re thought to be particularly important probiotics for children. They assist your child’s immune system, allowing it to develop appropriately. Your child may develop food allergies if he has a lack of Bifidobacteria in his system.
In one study, pregnant women, babies, and children were supplemented with Bifidobacteria, and it was able to prevent the development of allergic eczema.
What Children Are the Best Candidates for Probiotic use?
Probiotic supplements can promote recovery for children with acute diarrhea. They decrease the number of days and the number of diarrhea episodes. They are also helpful in treating children so that they do not develop diarrhea when they take antibiotics.
From the beginning of your child’s life and through childhood, the choices you make can change the environment in your child’s body. This may ultimately change their wellness.
Probiotics should be thought of as useful in treating problems and preventing them from occurring in the first place.
Although probiotic choices are more limited in children than adults, the literature surrounding the alteration of a child’s gut bacteria for health and wellness is promising and fascinating. Except for Lactobacillus, there have not been many studies in the United States with probiotics in children.
The risks of giving your child a probiotic supplement are low, as long as he is not severely ill. Whether your child has a healthy immune system or you are trying to help his body to develop a better immune system, all but early-born babies and children with serious illnesses are good candidates for the use of probiotics.
Types of Kid’s Probiotics
Now that you know how beneficial probiotics can be for children, let’s look at some of the types of probiotics you can get.
- Chewables: These are chewable probiotics that come in chewable powder tablets. They have less sugar and artificial ingredients.
- Gummies: Gummy probiotics are tasty for children because they are very similar to gummy snacks or candy they may already be used to
- Pearls: Some probiotics prove to be more effective when they are swallowed instead of chewed. Easy to swallow pearls are recommended for children four years old and older.
- Liquids: With liquid probiotics, you simply pour the right dose into a spoon or glass for your child to consume. They can also be squeezed directly into the child’s mouth or mixed into their water.
- Infant Formula: You can also find probiotics in infant formula. Some brands make dual infant probiotics that will help the baby’s gut and are similar to the probiotics that can also be found in breast milk.
- Breast Milk: the Lactobacillus species is present in the microbiota of breast milk and has been found to have a beneficial effect on the composition of intestinal microflora and the intestinal immune system of breastfed babies.
Probiotics for Children FAQ
Still have questions you need to be answered? Read on for more valuable information regarding the question: can children take probiotics?
Could probiotics help with allergies?
Research has shown that probiotics can have a positive effect on seasonal allergies. Those who suffer from fevers and take probiotics were found to greatly benefit from the use of probiotic supplements, including marked improvements in their quality of life and an improvement in their symptoms.
Should kids take probiotics for respiratory tract infections?
It has been found that probiotic use was able to reduce respiratory infections in healthy and hospitalized children and was also found to reduce the duration of the infection associated with the common cold. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is one of the most studied probiotics. It has been found to have beneficial effects on several GI disorders and has had similar effects on upper respiratory infections.
Should children eat probiotic foods?
Probiotics can relieve constipation, colic, and acid reflux in children and healthy infants. It is also possible that they can prevent secondary infections and diarrhea in children taking antibiotics as well. However, in addition to the probiotic supplement, children can still eat probiotic foods to aid the healthy bacteria in their gut.
Improved digestion, an improved immune system, healthier skin, weight loss, and the reduced risk of other diseases are just a few of the benefits. Yogurt, some cheeses, and sourdough bread are all great examples of probiotic foods children can consume.
What are the common side effects of probiotics for kids?
The two most common side effects of probiotics for kids may include increased stomach gas and bloating. Some other more serious but unlikely symptoms also include high fever, chills, and a persistent cough. If your child exhibits any symptoms at all, it is best to discuss this with your child’s healthcare provider.
Can you give a child too many probiotics?
Currently, there is no recommended or set dose of probiotics for children. Always discuss dosing and probiotic use with your pediatrician or pediatric GI doctor to find which probiotic supplement would be best and learn how much to give your child. Too many probiotics can lead to bloating, gas, and nausea.
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