Healthy Gut, Healthy Child

Healthy Gut, Healthy Child

Every child has trillions of different microbes living in her, and no two kids have the same mix of bacteria. This balance of good, bad, and benign bacteria in the gut help fortify the immune system to fight off infections and support digestion. But when illnesses and infections disrupt the balance of beneficial and bad bacteria, a probiotic supplement may help get your child back on track to good health.

Any parent who has had a colicky infant would be grateful for a remedy that would help soothe the extended, inconsolable crying. Colic is stressful for parents and is the number-one reason for pediatric visits. Research shows that probiotics can significantly reduce daily crying time with no adverse effects. Some studies show results in three weeks, and others report dramatic reductions in crying time in as little as one week.

Probiotics are particularly helpful for kids with diarrhea, especially infectious diarrhea. Researchers report that infants and children with viral diarrhea who eat probiotic foods (primarily yogurt) early on experience a shorter duration of diarrhea by about a day. Other research shows that probiotics may also help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in healthy kids. Probiotics also show promise for reducing the severity of kids' abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, and gas associated with conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

Probiotics may also help reduce eczema in healthy children. In one study, daily doses of probiotics mixed into breast milk or formula significantly reduced the risk of developing eczema. They may be particularly effective for eczema flare-ups triggered by a milk allergy.

Healthy bacteria can also help bolster your child's immunity. In a study of 571 kids in daycare, probiotics reduced both stay-at-home sick days and the number of infections serious enough to require antibiotics. In a separate study of more than 200 preschoolers, a probiotic supplement reduced the incidence of fever by 48 percent, cough by 42 percent, and antibiotic use by 68 percent.

To support your child's well-being this summer and year-round, talk to her pediatrician about probiotics. Your local natural market has a variety of probiotic supplements appropriate for infants and children.

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