Probiotics may have some benefits for kids

Nov 29, 2010 By CARLA K. JOHNSON , AP Medical Writer

(AP) -- A leading medical group says there's some evidence that probiotics, or "good" bacteria, may have limited benefits for certain illnesses in children.

But the group says the science isn't yet strong enough to advocate infant formulas containing probiotics. And probiotics shouldn't be given to children who are seriously ill.

That's according to a new American Academy of Pediatrics report published Monday in the journal, Pediatrics.

About 500 different bacteria live naturally in a healthy human's , and there's a growing understanding of the role they play in health. For years, companies have been making claims that their probiotic pills, yogurts, milks and juices help digestive health and the immune system.

The new report summarizes findings from high-quality scientific studies on some of the in the products. The report says probiotics taken early during diarrhea from a viral infection may shorten the illness in otherwise healthy children.

And probiotics also may prevent diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics, which can sometimes cause the condition.

On the other hand, more evidence is needed before AAP can recommend probiotics for constipation, or Crohn disease. And there's not enough evidence for recommending probiotics in pregnant women or infants to prevent or asthma.

Future research may find more benefits, the report says. And "prebiotics," which contain fiber and other nutrients that feed , also may someday prove helpful.

One warning: Children with compromised immune systems or who use intravenous catheters should not receive probiotics because serious infections have been reported.

The bacteria in the products are only helpful if they're alive, which isn't always the case.

"Consumers should keep in mind that a large percentage of organisms in a probiotic supplement may die before the product is even purchased and labels can be misleading or incorrect," said Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, which tests products and reports on their quality.

The company tested probiotic supplements last year. Two children's contained only 7 percent and 21 percent of the listed amounts. Cooperman suggested that products be stored in sealed containers out of heat, light and humidity. He said it's best to refrigerate them.

Explore further: Can caffeine be used to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease?

More information: American Academy of Pediatrics: http://www.aap.org

0 shares

Related Stories

What else may probiotics do in adults?

May 20, 2008

Probiotic bacteria, defined as living microorganisms that have beneficial effects on human health, have mostly been studied in the prevention and treatment of different gastrointestinal diseases and allergies. Probiotic products, ...

Probiotics use in mothers limits eczema in their babies

Jul 20, 2010

Mothers who drank milk with a probiotic supplement during and after pregnancy were able to cut the incidence of eczema in their children by almost half, a new study published in the British Journal of Dermatology has shown. ...

Study recommends diet with good bacteria

Aug 08, 2006

A British study says those over 60 should boost their daily intake of probiotics, or diet with "good bacteria," to prevent intestinal infections.

Probiotic without effect against Salmonella

Apr 19, 2010

Many tourists travelling abroad go down with diarrhoea, which can be caused by Salmonella. While probiotics are often cited as the solution to various stomach problems, the probiotic, Lactobacillus plantarum has no effect ...

Recommended for you

Should men cut back on their soy intake?

2 hours ago

Recently, a friend called my husband to inquire about the risks for men in consuming too much soy milk. He had read an article that described how one individual's plight led him down the path of breast enlargement, and was ...

Probing Question: What is umami?

2 hours ago

The next time you're at a dinner party and want to spice up the conversation, you might compliment the hosts on their umami-rich appetizers. Then wait a moment until someone invariably asks, "What's umami?"

Will the Affordable Care Act eliminate health disparities?

4 hours ago

Massachusetts' health reform may be a crystal ball for researchers and policymakers in forecasting the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Many see the ACA as the backbone of efforts toward closing the nation's health ...

Experts question election pledges on GP access

15 hours ago

As the general election in the UK approaches, experts writing in The BMJ this week question whether the party promises on access to general practice are likely to be achievable.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.