Probiotics have health benefits in some children

The AP reports, “For years, companies have been making claims that their probiotic pills, yogurts, milks and juices help digestive health and the immune system. Some experts are still not so sure, however.

In recent blogs about probiotics and kids, I’ve told you, “Friendly Bacteria (Probiotics) Help Calm Colicky Babies and May Help Constipated Babies” and “Probiotics may ease kids’ belly aches (especially IBS).” And now, a “leading medical group says there’s some evidence that probiotics, or ‘good’ bacteria, may have limited benefits for certain illnesses in children.”

A new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) review published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that giving probiotics early to children with diarrhea from a viral infection, but who are otherwise healthy, can shorten the duration of illness.

The Time “Healthland” blog reported, “The review also found that probiotics can help prevent diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics.”

But the AAP “stopped short of recommending that probiotics be added to children’s formula (although infant foods and formula that already contain probiotics, such as Bifidobacterium lactis, which has been available in formula since 2007, aren’t considered harmful to healthy children), and warned that the live microorganisms should not be given to seriously ill children with weakened immune systems or who use intravenous catheters.”

Investigators also pointed out that its “been proposed that in individuals with genetic susceptibility to [inflammatory bowel disease], chronic inflammation occurs in response to commensal digestive microflora because of various inherited defects of innate inflammatory-response pathways,” MedPage Today reported.

“However, although experience with probiotics thus far may be promising in chronic ulcerative colitis, further research with larger numbers of patients is needed.

As for Crohn’s disease in children, there has been no evidence of efficacy and probiotics are not recommended, the report said.”

But, if you want to try probiotics in the U.S., buyer beware. ConsumerLab.com says in its report about quality testing probiotics:

ConsumerLab.com selected thirteen probiotic products sold in the U.S. and/or Canada. Some products only listed the amount of organisms that were viable when the product was manufactured and not through the expiration date. This labeling practice is not typically employed with other types of supplements and can mislead consumers when a diminished amount is actually in the product at time of use. One of the products selected by ConsumerLab.com (Kashi Vive) did not list any amount of organisms.

Among the products selected by ConsumerLab.com, only two (Advocare Probiotic Restore and Udo’s Choice Adult Formula) were found to accurately list the number of cells that were viable at the time they were tested.  Other products were found to contain as little as 7% to 58% of the amount listed on their labels.

The ConsumerLab report lists several brands of probiotics that passed quality testing

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