Healthcare professionals are recognizing the important tie between probiotics and gut health. In fact, research regarding probiotics for newborns and children is proving to be quite intriguing. A perfect example is Edward-Elmhurst Health where hospital-specific products are used for some high-risk infants in Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). However, even over-the-counter probiotics offer benefits in newborns, children, and teens. (1)

Probiotics: Gut Health Babies And Children

Probiotics are bacteria that help produce the “good bacteria” we need in our gastrointestinal (GI) system. They can be taken to reduce “bad bacteria” and improve the overall health of gut microbiome. Probiotics for infants offer the following benefits: (1)

  • Improved feeding and sleep
  • Better growth rates
  • More frequent bowel movements without the need for other medications
  • Reduced symptoms related to feeding intolerance

“While there is a lot of publicity about probiotics’ role in decreasing the occurrence of NEC (necrotizing enterocolitis) in extreme preemies, that effect is not yet proven. The real intention of a probiotic in extremely premature neonates is to alter negative gut imbalance and produce a more balanced gut,” says Bob Covert, MD, an independent neonatologist and Medical Director of the Edward Hospital NICU. (1)

Breast Milk: Gut Health Babies And Children

Breast milk is known to provide significant advantages for premature newborns, yet 15% of breast milk is indigestible without certain “good” bacteria. As a result, NICUs use probiotics to restore the good bacteria with the hopes to improve functionality in infants. At the Edward Hospital NICU, their probiotics program was started in June 2020 for very premature babies, and GI surgical infants. (1)

They used a specific B. infantis strain known commercially as “Evivo”. This is the only commercially available product containing B. infantis strain that captures, consumes, and converts the human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) present in breast milk and lowers intestinal pH. Because the process is complete, it reduces “bad” pathogenic bacteria by 80% while increasing good bacteria including B. infantis. (1)

Probiotics For Gut Health In Babies

Although Evivo is beneficial for breast fed babies, it can still benefit formula fed babies as well. Although improvements might not be as significant, the probiotics still prove beneficial.  Parents who wish to give their babies probiotics should speak to their doctor to ensure it is suitable for them. This will ensure they avoid potential side effects. However, generally speaking single-strain probiotics are recommended for babies delivered via c-section or where the mother received antibiotics. This is because in these cases, the mother’s flora is not passed to the baby. Babies with the following symptoms can also benefit from probiotics: (1)

  • Colic
  • General discomfort
  • Diaper rash
  • Watery stools

Older children can take a multi-strain probiotic for the following symptoms: (1)

However, be careful to choose a product that undergoes third-party testing to help ensure they contain the colony forming units listed on the label. (1)

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  1. https://patch.com/illinois/naperville/eeh-role-probiotics-gut-health-babies-children 

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