Probiotic Use in Children

Rosemary J. Young, MS, RN, Shari Huffman, MN, RN, CPNP

J Pediatr Health Care. 2003;17(6) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Interest in nutritional supplements and functional foods has risen significantly in recent years. Many of the products that are marketed to consumers tout the benefits of probiotics for general good health and for a wide variety of conditions and situations. Although most of these products have been used safely for years, careful analysis of scientific research should be conducted before routinely recommending these products, especially for children. A basic understanding of intestinal flora, properties of probiotics, and clinical research findings is necessary for clinicians to delineate the role of probiotic agents in the pediatric population.


In an increasingly medically savvy society, consumers have ready access to health information and a growing interest in "natural" or complementary medical remedies, preventative therapies, and nutritional supplements to improve health. The term "functional food" has been coined to describe food or nutrients that promote health beyond providing basic nutrition. Both probiotics and prebiotics have received increased attention as functional foods, but the concept of probiotics was established early in the last century by Metchnikoff, who hypothesized that the ingestion of fermented milk products had a beneficial impact on the health and lifespan of Bulgarian peasants (Kopp-Hoolihan, 2001; Metchnikoff, 1908). This review will outline intestinal microbiology and summarize research findings on the clinical applications of probiotic use in children.


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