5 Probiotic Benefits for Infants and Toddlers
By Brande Plotnick
Probiotics offer potential benefits for babies and toddlers. Probiotics are living microorganisms found in fermented foods, yogurt, and commercial supplements that can change the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.
Here are five potential benefits of probiotics for babies and toddlers.
1. Less diarrhea — Probiotics are modestly effective at preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD) in children, WebMD reported, citing a clinical report published in Pediatrics. Also, children with diarrhea from acute viral gastroenteritis saw relief an average of one day sooner when given a probiotic.
2. Prevention of food allergies — The first bacteria strains introduced into a baby’s intestines have the best chance of gaining a foothold and establishing gut flora. Babies who are given beneficial bacteria soon after birth are able to colonize these probiotics in their intestines. This prevents the body from identifying certain foods as foreign substances and mounting an allergic response to them, says Body Ecology.
3. Improved brain development — Dr. Mercola, a popular and controversial osteopathic physician and nutrition expert, explains that babies get their first exposure to the bacteria that will populate their gastrointestinal tracts from the vagina during birth. Mothers who consume probiotics during pregnancy are likely to pass these good bacteria on to their babies. Gut flora overrun with bad bacteria can predispose your child to attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism, and a host of other psychological and developmental challenges.
4. Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) — This disorder is very common among premature babies, and it is characterized by dying intestinal tissue. Dr. Mercola cites an Australian study that showed probiotics reduced the incidence of NEC by at least 30 percent.
5. Fewer skin disorders — Body Ecology references a study showing that probiotics can reduce the likelihood of children developing skin allergies like atopic eczema, which has been shown to also be linked to asthma.
Dr. Mercola recommends starting infants on probiotics as early as possible, either through a high-quality supplement or with yogurt made from organic, raw milk for the best benefits. Establishing these good bacteria is crucial and needs to occur before harmful bacteria are introduced. He also recommends using antibiotics with extreme caution in babies because antibiotics destroy a healthy balance of gut flora.