Updated: Sep 9, 2021
So many health fads, and just as many questions about their effectiveness.
I am all about natural health and wellness. However, I am also kind of a skeptic.
I tend to employ more of a "skeptic until proven effective" point-of-view.
Years ago, I dug into the research on probiotics for kids hoping to find a solution for my daughter's eczema. Spoiler alert. Probiotics can't treat eczema.
During my dig, however, I found some research that convinced me to begin giving a daily probiotic to my kids!
Whether you want to understand the benefits of probiotics for kids, are considering adding a daily probiotic for your child's overall health, or are searching for the best kids probiotics for certain ailments, you're in the right spot.
Please Note: This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I will receive a small commission on the sale of items linked to Amazon. However, the price is the same for you. I am not personally affiliated with any of the brands I recommend. I only promote products that I love and believe you will love. Thank you for supporting my small business.
Also Note: My intent with this information is absolutely not to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. I urge you to speak with your child's pediatrician or a trusted health care professional before starting any supplements for your child. I do believe that knowledge is power, and parent resources like these can help you prepare for your visit with your child's pediatrician to discuss health care concerns.
What Are Probiotics?
Nerd alert. When I am trying to understand something scientific, I like real scientific information.
The good news for you, I have reviewed the research, you get enjoy the summary.
Here we go.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host”.
Simple enough. Take away for me is that they must be given in an amount that creates a health benefit.
A little history.
The concept of probiotics is relatively new.
In the early 1900s, a French pediatrician noticed that children with diarrhea had a low number of Y-shaped bacteria in their stools. These y-shaped bacteria were, however, abundant in healthy children. He suggested that these bacteria could be administered to patients with diarrhea to help restore a healthy gut bacteria.
The first actual observation of the positive role played by some bacteria came in 1907, when a Russian Nobel Prize winner (Ellie Metchnikoff) suggested that, because the bacteria in our gut depend on food, we may be able to change what we eat in order to get rid of harmful bacteria and replace them with healthy bacteria. (4)
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics (like fiber!) have essentially the same aim as probiotics, which is to improve host health by controlling the gut bacteria by helping probiotics and healthy bacteria grow.
It is thought that by combining some probiotics and prebiotics, they work together, thus making them even more impactful. (4)
Do Probiotics Provide Health Benefits for Kids?
After almost an entire century filled with mostly mixed scientific reviews and anecdotal evidence, it wasn't until about 1980 that scientists were able to show health benefits of probiotics.
Although we have studies showing health benefits of probiotics, they have not been reproduced successfully using rigorous clinical trials.
Where does that leave us?
We still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding exactly what probiotics are beneficial, who and what they benefit, and how to achieve the benefit.
Benefits Of Probiotics For Kids
My goal is to provide you with evidence-based information.
As mentioned above, studies showing health benefits of probiotics have not been reproduced successfully using rigorous clinical trials.
Does this mean probiotics aren't beneficial to health? No.
Increasing evidence suggests that we are on to something.
However, there are still factors that we do not understand. Therefore, in most situations, it is not possible for health care professionals to make strong, evidence based recommendations on use of probiotics.
However, I am going to share with you some findings that we do have. I think you may find it helpful.
A quick summary of possible benefits of probiotics for kids
prevent eczema in children at risk for allergic conditions (eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies), including possible long term prevention
prevent and shorten length of common cold and ear infections
prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea in children when taken with antibiotics
reduce diarrhea in children with gastroenteritis
reduce crying time in babies with colic
reduce pain in children with IBS
Eczema and Probiotics
Let's get the bad news out of the way. Unfortunately, probiotics are not a solution for treating eczema (2).
However, use of probiotics may be an effective method to prevent eczema in children at risk for allergic conditions (eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies), including possible long term prevention. (5)
Check it out.
Background: Eczema and Probiotics