Fletcher Allen, a Vermont university hospital and medical center, serves all of
Vermont and the northern New York region. Located in Burlington, Fletcher Allen is a regional, academic healthcare center and teaching hospital in alliance with the University of Vermont.
Probiotics: First With Kids - Vermont Children's Hospital, Fletcher Allen
Digesting Some Information on Probiotics
have been asking me to digest information they’ve heard about something called
probiotics and whether they are safe for children. Well, let me see if I can
provide some food for thought on this topic.
some bacteria in our system are dangerous and cause us to get sick, there are
other good or friendly bacteria that work in our digestive tract to help us
stay healthy. They are what we call probiotics.
living inside us, make substances that keep the cells in our intestines healthy
and fight off unfriendly bacteria, yeast and molds. Some of the more common
names for these bacteria are bifid bacterium and lactobacillus, organisms that
you find in foods such as yogurt.
colonize or settle into a baby or child’s digestive system, they help to do
such things as reduce the risk of diarrhea due to stomach viruses, lower the
risk of food allergy and help premature infants grow and stay healthy. They
have been reported in studies to lower the risk of everything from diarrhea to
eczema to food allergies and colic.
studies published recently suggest that probiotics can even reduce the
incidence of the common cold or flu symptoms.
So are probiotics safe? Based on studies of adults, probiotics appear to be safe when used in moderation or introduced in the routine foods we eat, like yogurt. Since they are regulated as food products and not as drugs, however, there are limited specific data as to what types or doses should be given as extra doses of these organisms in order to work in kids and adults.
only side effects of taking large doses of probiotics to date are reported
largely in adults and include mild gas and bloating. Also, these products can
be expensive and some don’t taste very good.
suggestion is to recognize that probiotics are already a part of all of our
intestinal systems. You should also look out for studies that will guarantee
the relative safety of giving extra probiotics to our children as well as to yourself.
tips like this will help make you a pro when it comes to knowing more about
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids