Probiotics for children – why you should consider!
The digestive tract of an adult contains somewhere between 2.5-5kgs of bacteria. In fact, the number of bacteria in our gut are far higher than the number of cells found in our body! We have about 100 trillion bacteria living in our gut and this is thought to be made up of over 500 different bacterial species. We have around 20% detrimental or ‘bad’ bacteria and 80% healthy and beneficial strains. The balance of these bacteria is super important for our health as they:
1) Aid digestion helping us to absorb nutrients which in turn affects EVERYTHING!
2) Displace bad bugs and microbes such as parasites that make their way into the digestive tract.
Babies born via caesarian section miss their first step to good digestive health completely
First exposure to bacteria begins when the baby is coming down the birth canal and takes in a few gulps of fluid containing the mother’s bacteria. This bacteria lines bubs digestive tract and will continue to reproduce and grow throughout its life. However due to our modern lifestyle, high sugar diets, antibiotic use, high yeast diets and other causes the mother’s bacterial balance can be off, and the baby will inherit this imbalanced flora level. Beneficial flora can be passed from breast milk to the baby and so breastfed babies whose mothers are taking probiotics will benefit. Babies use the bacteria to aid milk digestion and to ensure they can absorb nutrients they need. It is for this reason that poor gut flora can result in a very colicky baby. I have lost count of the amount of parents that have had their child settle once they get onto some probiotics
As our babies grow, solids are introduced and this is a new challenge for the gut. Good levels of healthy flora ensure that the new foods are digested well and this reduces the risk of food allergies developing. Just as important is the role of the bacteria in immune health. This is because a child’s first line of defence immunity is the gut. 80% of the immune system is found in our guts which is why our gut health has such a huge impact on our immune system. It takes around 2 years for a child’s immune system to reach an adult level of maturity and so any helping hand we can give to support gut and immune health will go a long way to ensuring long term health.
Health benefits of probiotics for children:
1- Boosts immunity, regulates antibody responses and reduces the risk of infections such as the common cold
2- Reduced risk of gastrointestinal infections
3- Reduced risk of colic, reflux and gas in babies
4- Reduces the risk of allergies, asthma, hayfever and eczema
5- Reduced risk of autism, ADD/ADHD and mood disorders
6- Improves digestion of food, and absorption and assimilation of nutrients
One of the easiest ways that you can assist the health of your child is by giving them probiotics to establish a healthy gastrointestinal tract. I recommend a probiotic be started on as soon as a newborn is home from the hospital. There are different probiotic strengths and strains of bacteria that are specific to a newborn gut vs. the gut of a toddler or child vs. that needed for an adult. This means that there are different probiotic products for different age groups.
* For babies up to the age of 1, I prescribe Biceuticals Babybiotic. Please email me for dosage instructions based on your child’s age and weight or to place an order.
* For children up until the age of 10, I use Metagenics Flora Care for kids. Please email me for dosage instructions based on your child’s age and weight or to place an order.