Probiotics for Kids: What You Need to Know
Published June 25th, 2020 / Updated February 12, 2021
The moment you know you’re going to become a parent, a million thoughts start crossing your mind. “How do I prepare to become a good parent?” “How do I raise my child properly?” “What kind of lifestyle changes should I make?”
But most importantly, you think about what you can do to make your child as healthy as possible. Concerns over your child’s health should be of paramount importance. From the moment your child is born, he encounters a new, unsterile world way different from the womb.
So, what can we do about this? How do we make sure that they’ll be as healthy as possible?
Before we talk about probiotics for kids, we have to tackle probiotics for mothers. Do probiotics in pregnant mothers affect their children?
Yes, they do. Probiotics in mothers build the foundation for their children’s microbiomes.
A microbiome is the genetic material of all living microbes in our bodies. Microbes include bacteria, under which probiotics fall. The bacteria in the microbiome are highly beneficial to us. They help regulate the immune system, fight off harmful bacteria, and produce vitamins.
Shortly before birth, some species of bacteria migrate from the mother’s body to her baby’s. This good bacteria helps the baby’s body distinguish between what is “good” and what is “bad” for it. Experts have gathered much information on this matter.
Benefits of Probiotics For Kids
Probiotics are scientifically proven to be healthy for us. They have several benefits in keeping our bodies in check. They may help with common sicknesses such as:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Autoimmune diseases
- Antibiotic-caused ailments
An unhealthy microbiome can cause complications for a child’s health. Luckily, probiotics can help maintain the balance of that microbiome. But this doesn’t apply to all, though. The health benefits probiotics provide could vary by strain and person. What works for one condition may not provide the same effects for another.
Probiotics are generally safe for most kids. However, if your child has a compromised immune system, cancer, or is a premature infant, probiotics could put them at risk for infections.
The Best Probiotic Strains For Kids
1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
L. Rhamnosus has numerous benefits for your health, especially towards digestion. This particular strain may be able to:
- Help treat diarrhea
- Aid IBS symptoms
- Aid gut health
- Protect against cavities
- Help prevent UTIs
- Promote weight loss
And many more benefits.
2. Lactobacillus sporogenes
L. Sporegenes has many names, but it more popularly goes by “Bacillus coagulans.” It is similar to Lactobacillus in its usage as a beneficial bacteria.
Bacillus coagulans can treat many of the same problems as L. rhamnosus. Like L. rhamnosus, this strain can treat diarrhea, IBS, and inflammatory bowel disease.
Many use this strain to treat respiratory problems and boost their immune system. It also has abilities to prevent cancer by combatting cancer-causing agents.
3. Saccaromyces boulardii
Saccaromyces boulardii is a type of yeast. People linked it to being a strain similar to baker’s yeast. But Saccaromyces boulardii is used almost exclusively as medicine.
There’s a recurring pattern with the presented probiotics. They address many problems involving our bowels. Saccaromyces boulardii is no different, as its uses also cover diarrhea and diseases caused by antibiotics. More importantly, it can fight off rotaviral diarrhea in children.
4. Lactobacillus acidophilus
More commonly referred to as “acidophilus,” this strain of bacterium can be found in yogurt. Acidophilus as a supplement comes in many forms, such as capsules, tablets, and wafers.
Aside from treating diarrhea, one of its main benefits for kids is against lung infection. Acidophilus might play a key role in reducing respiratory problems in children.
5. Bifidobacterium lactis
Bifidobacteria live in our intestines. You can take this bacteria by mouth, though, as a medicine.
This bacteria generally addresses problems caused by antibiotics. While there are no doubt antibiotics can be beneficial to us, they can also kill off some “good” bacteria to die. The theory is that bifidobacteria can prevent the death of much of the good bacteria within us.
Also able to treat diarrhea, bifidobacteria can fight common colds and the flu.
Food vs. Supplements: How Should My Kid Get His Probiotics?
There has been debate about whether letting kids take supplements is safe. For kids, it’s better to get their probiotics from their food instead of supplements. However, some researches suggest that supplements are perfectly safe for kids to take.
One advantage that supplements have over food is their concentration in probiotics. Supplements generally contain more probiotics than in food. When choosing the right supplements, you should consider two key factors. These factors are the specific strain of probiotic and the CFU (colony-forming unit). CFU refers to the number of viable live bacteria found in a product.
Before supplementing, we always recommend checking first with your local pediatrician.
For continued reading on this topic check out the best probiotics according to science.
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About The Author
Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.