The intestinal flora is made up of billions of microorganisms. In children, it contributes to both food digestion and immune system development. However, factors such as the environment, diet, and the use of medicine, can influence its composition. When its balance is disrupted, probiotics can come to the rescue. But what exactly are the benefits of probiotics for babies, toddlers and older children?
Pregnancy and Probiotics for Babies
In the mother’s womb, the intestine of the fetus is devoid of any microorganisms. At birth, bacteria from the mother’s vaginal canal and intestinal flora are transferred to her child. This is why it is essential for pregnant women to maintain a balanced intestinal flora. Consuming probiotics throughout pregnancy will have positive effects on this ecosystem, for both mommy and baby.
Probiotics are also used to prevent necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious illness affecting the intestine of premature babies during their first weeks of life. Studies have confirmed the benefits of probiotics for infants whose birth weight is lower than 1,500 grams (3.3 pounds), revealing that probiotics reduce the incidence of NEC and death.
Probiotics for Kids
Just like spooky ghosts, viruses, bacteria, and pathogenic germs haunt surfaces in kindergartens and schools, which have earned them a bad reputation, especially amongst parents. The most common harm attributed to them? The diarrhea associated with gastroenteritis.
Researchers have demonstrated that the lactic acid bacteria contained in probiotics—and more specifically, lactobacilli—can decrease the risk of diarrhea and shorten the duration of symptoms. This strengthens the child’s intestinal barrier and aids the good bacteria to fight the harmful ones. Which is a relief for parents!
Research on probiotics has been progressing over the years, meaning these allies of kids’ health are not done impressing us. Nevertheless, most of the food found at grocery stores contains only a small amount of probiotics. This is why it’s preferable to turn to supplements, in order to maximize the benefits of probiotics for toddlers and older children.