Probiotic Use in Children

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

J Pediatr Health Care. 2003;17(6) 

In This Article

Summary

Probiotics contain species of bacteria that are commonly found in the intestinal tract. Well-designed research studies suggest that supplementary consumption of certain probiotic strains, primarily Lactobacillus GG, may temporarily alter the intestinal microflora to produce a beneficial effect. Most commercially available strains of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria species are generally considered safe and may be especially helpful in treatment of pediatric diarrheal illnesses. However, clinical benefit of probiotic therapy is dependent on numerous factors such as type of bacteria, dosing regimen, delivery method, and other underlying host factors. Recommendation of a specific probiotic for any condition requires thoughtful analysis of these issues. If probiotic therapy is being considered by the clinician and/or caregiver, awareness and understanding of potential benefits in light of the specific product properties are needed. In addition, although the risk of adverse effects is thought to be very low, use of probiotic agents in premature infants and children with altered immune function and the use of newer strains of nontraditional probiotics without a long history of safe use should be carefully considered and studied further.

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