Can Children Benefit from Probiotics?
The short answer is a resounding yes. Children, like adults, receive many benefits from getting additional good bacteria throughout their lives. Remember that at least 70% of our immune system can be found in the gut, where good bacteria work to maintain balance and support ongoing digestive and immune health. So it stands to reason that bolstering those numbers with probiotics for babies and children is a good way to support a healthy tummy and immune system during childhood and into adulthood.
Newborns receive their first good bacteria earlier than you might expect
It was long believed that babies received their first good bacteria from their mothers as they entered the world through the birth canal. But recent data suggests a newborn’s first exposure may happen even earlier—in the mother’s womb. A study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine suggests babies come into contact with a “small but diverse amount of bacteria” in the placenta—an organ that begins to develop shortly after fertilization and nourishes the developing fetus throughout pregnancy. This is interesting mainly because the mother’s womb was typically believed to be a sterile environment, but now there is evidence of a pre-existing bacterial community within the placenta that may be the beginning of each child’s unique microbiome.
When would a probiotic be suitable for a child?
Regardless of when newborns receive their first microbes, supplying additional beneficial bacteria throughout the early years may help promote digestive and immune health. Keep in mind that babies and children encounter constant challenges to their immune and digestive systems as they grow and develop. Just like adults, factors such as diet, their environment, a change in routine, and the use of certain medications may disrupt the healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. For this reason, taking a probiotic supplement as early as infancy may help promote a healthy balance of intestinal flora to support digestion, and probiotics are considered a safe and gentle way to help support the immune system.*
Are probiotics safe for infants?
Countless studies have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of supplemental probiotics for infants and children. Remember that probiotics are simply the “good” or “friendly” bacteria that occur naturally in the human gut. However, because babies and children encounter daily challenges to their immune systems that can affect a healthy digestive balance and lessen their numbers of good bacteria, daily probiotics for kids are a recommended way to help replenish their supply of good bacteria.
Many people wonder whether or not probiotics have side effects similar to some medications. It is important to remember that “side effects” is a medical term used in the labeling of some pharmaceutical products, and probiotics are not pharmaceutical drugs. They are dietary supplements that support good digestion and immune health.* Similar to when you consume a new food, they may produce occasional gas or bloating when first consumed. For this reason, many parents choose to progress gradually when starting kids on probiotics, often beginning with a smaller dose and increasing the amount each day to reach the recommended dose.
Why am I always hearing about strains?
There are more than 100 trillion bacteria in a healthy human gut, and among them are more than 1,000 different strains of beneficial bacteria. Because different strains provide different benefits throughout the digestive system, it is ideal to select a probiotic supplement that contains a variety of strains. For example, our Ultimate Flora™ Baby Probiotic 4 Billion delivers a blend of scientifically studied, health-promoting strains chosen for their prevalence in infants’ and toddlers’ digestive tracts to foster optimum digestion and immune function.*
3 key benefits of probiotics for infants and children
We know from clinical studies that probiotics are strongly connected to digestive and immune health, both in adults and children. If your baby or child experiences occasional tummy upset or irregularity—or if you simply want to take preventative measures to help kids stay healthy throughout the year, keep in mind these 3 key benefits of probiotics for infants and children:
- Healthy immune function. Added beneficial bacteria can support a healthy digestive balance and help teach the immune system to respond appropriately to outside challenges.*
- Regular bowel movements. Regular elimination needs a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut. A number of daily probiotics have been shown to help support that balance, which in turn promotes regularity and helps prevent the occasional upset tummy.*
- Healthy digestion. In addition to producing vitamins—including important B vitamins—a number of probiotics produce digestive enzymes and support regular, balanced digestion.*
Beyond these benefits, scientists are just beginning to explore how a healthy, balanced gut is connected to our mood and behavior, energy levels, healthy sleep, happiness and the list goes on, so it’s no wonder more and more health care practitioners are recommending daily probiotic supplements to promote optimal physical and mental health.
Choosing the right probiotic for your little ones
When it comes to choosing the right probiotic for your infant or child, it helps to consider a few things. For infant probiotics, look for a powdered formula that mixes easily with liquids. It should contain at least a billion live probiotic cultures and multiple strains. For school-age children, chewable tablets or gummies are a great way to help them get added good bacteria in their diet. Again, look for multiple strains to help promote digestive balance and support immune health. And always with infant and children’s supplements, be sure to check the label and make sure there are no artificial ingredients.
When to talk to your doctor
A daily probiotic supplement is considered a safe and gentle way to support digestive and immune health in babies and children, but it is a good idea to consult your health care practitioner before starting your kids on any nutritional supplements. If you are concerned about specific digestive or health issues, always consult your doctor first.
Renew Life® Ultimate Flora Probiotics for babies and children
At Renew Life we believe a healthy, balanced gut is important at every age. Our Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotics provide added digestive and immune support for growing bodies, and may help easy tummy troubles when taken regularly.* If you want to learn more about children’s health and probiotics, visit our Learning Center to explore these topics and more.
The Placenta Harbors a Unique Microbiome. Aagaard, K. Ma, J. Antony, K. Ganu, R. Petrosino, J. and Versalovic, J. Science Translational Medicine 21 May 2014:Vol. 6, Issue 237, pp. 237ra65 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008599