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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Probiotics and Infant Health

Gut microbiota are trillions of microorganisms living in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract that have many essential roles, including digestion and absorption of nutrients, protection against pathogens, and metabolic and immunologic programming. In infants and children, early establishment of a healthy gut microbiota (a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria) affects the development and maturation of the immune system, and thus may impact short- and long-term health outcomes. Negative influences on the establishment of a healthy gut microbiota and factors that decrease microbial diversity in infants and young children can have lifelong detrimental health impacts. Children exposed to oral antibiotics in infancy, for example, are more likely to develop atopic disease (e.g., eczema, asthma, allergic rhinitis), food allergy, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and early childhood obesity.

Probiotics are suggested to be supportive for infants and young children who have had negative influences on their gut bacteria. Strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are some of the most commonly used probiotics. Two specific strains, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG®) and Bifidobacterium animalis subsp. lactis BB-12 (BB-12®), have been extensively studied (individually or in combination) in multiple randomized controlled pediatric clinical trials. Below are just a few highlights of many studies:

  • In a study of 109 newborns (age 1-2 months until age 8 months) randomized to BB-12 [10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) daily] or control, BB-12 treatment decreased the risk of experiencing respiratory infections by 31%
  • A study randomized 81 infants (requiring formula before age of 2 months) to a formula containing LGG (10 billion CFU daily) plus BB-12 (10 billion CFU daily) or placebo until the age of 12 months; compared with placebo, LGG plus BB-12 significantly reduced the need for antibiotic treatment by 48% during the first 7 months of life and significantly reduced the incidence of recurrent RTIs by 49% during the first 12 months of life
  • Another study randomized 90 healthy infants (age < 8 months) in a residential care setting to BB-12 (> 100 million CFU daily) or placebo for 20-21 weeks; fewer infants receiving BB-12 experienced acute diarrhea and the mean number of days with diarrhea was significantly lower
  • In another study, 559 children (mean age 1.6 y/o) administered for acute watery diarrhea (57% tested positive for rotavirus) were randomized to oral rehydration solution (ORS) alone, ORS + LGG (20 billion CFU daily), or ORS + LGG (2 trillion CFU daily) for ≥7 days or until diarrhea stopped and the children were rehydrated; compared with the ORS only group, both ORS + LGG groups had significant reduction in the daily frequency of diarrhea from fourth day onward, significantly shorter mean diarrhea duration (by ~2 days), and significantly shorter hospital stay (by ~3.5 days)

Go beyond traditional multivitamin/minerals. A traditional multivitamin/mineral (MVM) may fall short of forward-thinking support to complement healthy eating habits to promote wellness and healthy aging. Phytonutrients can also be provided in supplement form when fruit and vegetable intake is less than optimal.

Make an appointment today to learn more about probiotics for infants, children, and your entire family.

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