By now, we know that adults need probiotics…but do kids? Here are some things to consider. Probiotics add another layer of good microorganisms to the already existing good ones, so they can be very beneficial to not only adults, but kids too. When the ratio of good bacteria is altered, for example, after your child uses antibiotics, probiotics can help get their gut back on track by replenishing the microbiome with good bacteria. If your child has an ear infection or diarrhea, taking a probiotic may actually help to lessen these symptoms. In addition, probiotics can also help your children stay healthy by decreasing the number of bacteria in the gut that can cause infections or inflammation. Gut health is key for supporting overall health at all ages, but the early years are most important for developing a healthy and balanced gut microbiome.
Most babies actually get their first large dose of microbes at birth, while traveling through the birth canal. They then pick up more while breastfeeding. These early microbes are crucial because they help shape your immune system, your digestive system, and even your brain. After a baby is born, the mother’s breast milk is what contains the exact nutrients the baby needs, including the right bacteria. The breast milk, in addition to feeding the baby, also feed’s the baby’s microbiome (American Museum of Natural History1 2018).
The number one concern of most parents when deciding whether they should give their child a probiotic supplement, is to know if it is safe. Generally speaking, probiotics are safe for kids unless your child has a compromised immune system, or is a premature infant. If that is the case, taking probiotics may open them up to infection.
Signs your child might need a probiotic
They take antibiotics: Sometimes there is no getting around taking an antibiotic, whether it’s for an infection or a skin rash. While the antibiotic helps fight the infection though, it also diminishes the resilience and diversity of your child’s gut flora.
There is a history of allergies: Children who have a parent/brother/sister affected by allergies such as hay fever, eczema, and asthma are twice as likely to develop allergies themselves, than children without a family history of allergies are. Taking a probiotic may help reduce children’s likelihood of allergies by aiding the maturation of the immune system and reducing the risk of allergic reaction.
They keep catching colds: More than 70 percent of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut, where they strengthen resistance against disease and help fight off disease-causing organisms (Fusion Health2 2018). Giving your child a probiotic may help reduce their risk of experiencing upper respiratory tract infections like colds.
How to pick a probiotic for your child
Probiotics are available in capsules, tablets, liquids, and powders, each containing a specific type of probiotic blend. So, which is best? Well, getting your kid to actually take the probiotic every day is the first challenge, so find a format that you think they will accept.
There are some strains that are more beneficial than others when deciding on a probiotic for your child. Lactobacillus acidophilus, for example, is a gut bacteria that can also be found in fermented foods like yogurt. This gut microbe produces an enzyme known as lactase, which breaks down lactose into lactic acid (Cleveland Clinic3 2018). Another great strain is Bifidobacterium lactis which is present in raw milk. Some benefits of this strain are improving digestion, enhancing the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and treating diarrhea.
If you are looking for a probiotic supplement with clinical studies (Simon4 2005). that show efficacy, you should consider Kyo-Dophilus probiotics. Kyo-Dophilus Kids Probiotic provides one billion live cells of L. gasseri, B. bifidum, and B. longum for digestion and immune health, and is also free of GMOs, dairy, sodium, yeast, gluten, preservatives, and artificial colors. It is a great “first probiotic” to introduce into your child’s routine.
- Simon AGL, Rogacion J. A randomized placebo-controlled trial on the use of probiotics in the prevention of nosocomial infection in pediatric patients with hematologic and oncologic diseases. PIDSP J. 2005;9(2):12-18. https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/A-RANDOMIZED-PLACEBO-CONTROLLED-TRIAL-ON-THE-USE-OF-Grace-Simon/70c1af520443003ad3c160d17a30c7cdca3a0ba7