Probiotics play an essential role in supporting health. They replenish the body’s supply of good bacteria and may help to prevent conditions such as IBS, eczema, and even colds.
There’s a general consensus that probiotics are good for adults, but should parents be giving them to their kids? This article will outline the general arguments for and against probiotic use in children so that parents can decide for themselves.
Probiotics Support a Healthy Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome consists of bacteria, viruses, and fungi living in the digestive tract. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria to keep the bad, infection-causing variants in check. Parents can ask the Best Pediatrician in Plano TX, Integrative Pediatrician, Pediatrician Collin County for recommendations regarding specific products, but most probiotics are safe for use in children.
The Proof Is in the Research
Multiple studies have been performed that show probiotics can improve health during childhood. Even infants can benefit from certain probiotics, which can reduce instances of uncomfortable conditions such as constipation, colic, and acid reflux. In later childhood, probiotics may help to reduce the symptoms of IBS and could even help to prevent respiratory tract infections.
Are There Any Risks?
Not all children respond well to probiotics. Some experience gas or bloating, and immune-compromised kids may have increased problems with infections. Some probiotics have also been shown to cause side effects in infants who are already very ill. However, severe side effects are rare.
In most cases, the risks associated with probiotic use in children do not outweigh the benefits. Parents should always consult their children’s pediatricians before trying new probiotics. Not all supplements are created equal, and the market is not well-regulated. It’s always best for parents interested in giving their children probiotics to get product recommendations from an experienced physician.
What About Probiotic Foods?
In most cases, it’s better for children to get the nutrients they need from dietary sources. The situation isn’t as clear-cut with probiotics. Many experts recommend that adults consume raw milk products as a means of balancing their gut microbiomes, for instance, but this practice is dangerous for children, who may contract life-threatening illnesses from the bad bacteria found in raw milk.
When to Use Probiotics
There has not been sufficient research on probiotic use in children to support giving kids probiotic supplements as a preventative measure. There may be long-term side effects that aren’t yet well understood. It’s better to save probiotic use for times when a child’s gut microbiome may need some extra help, such as after antibiotic use or prolonged gastrointestinal illness.
It’s also relevant to note that since children have lower body weights than adults, doses of probiotics must be titrated. If a pediatrician recommends using probiotics, buy a brand that creates products designed for children such as Culturelle, Nature’s Way, or Ultimate Flora. These products contain multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and are designed to be more palatable to children.
In most cases, it is safe to give children probiotics for short periods of time. However, some children may experience side effects, and immune-compromised children could face serious infections. Always consult a pediatrician before giving a child a new dietary supplement and be prepared to ask and answer questions about the child’s health and the benefits and risks of using the supplement.
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