Bacterial-based supplements are known to bring a variety of benefits to the gastrointestinal tract in adults. But is it okay to give probiotics to infants and newborns?
In this article, let’s learn about probiotics for babies. Is it appropriate to give probiotics to very young babies? What are the risks of altering an infant’s gut flora? It is important to clarify some uncertainties before making any decisions regarding child health.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that you add to certain aspects of your diet and keep active in your gut. Thanks to their activity, these microorganisms modify the microflora in the digestive organs of those who consume them.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), we can enjoy many health benefits if we consume adequate amounts of probiotics. Probiotic foods include fresh yogurt, kefir, and sour cabbage.
A balanced microflora in the gut is essential for human health. Cooperation between humans and the microbes living within them determines long-term and short-term health.
Several studies have shown that the flora in the gastrointestinal tract provides several benefits. For example:
- The intestinal flora aids in the differentiation of lymphoid tissues associated with the intestinal mucosa. This translates into synergy with the immune system learning to recognize beneficial bacterial strains and prepare for future diseases. So, in summary, they help the body’s defenses.
- Gut bacteria recognize and break down certain plant polysaccharides that we alone cannot. According to scientific publications, this activity accounts for 10% of human daily calories.
- Since the digestive system is open to external factors, there is always the risk of external factors attacking it. By the way, the normal bacterial flora makes contact with the outside world and colonizes the surface, preventing foreign substances from multiplying.
The above are some of the benefits that gut flora brings to humans. This is a symbiotic relationship because they cannot live without us and we cannot live without them.
The general flora of the digestive system is essential for human survival.
Probiotics for Babies
Probiotic foods contain bacteria that are beneficial to the overall functioning of the gut microbiome. Some of these are lactic acid bacteria, bifidobacteria and Saccharomyces
Healthy microbes already contain these microbes, but if the person who consumes them does not have a pre-existing disease, it is better to increase the amount. But what about newborns?
Research Advocating the Use of Probiotics for Babies
The results of a study conducted in 2014 are as follows.
- 589 neonates were monitored during the first 90 days of life. Some of them were fed the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus reuteri, while others were fake.
- Parents were asked to monitor the frequency of vomiting, duration of crying, number of visits to the pediatrician, and hospitalization, among other factors indicative of a baby’s gut health.
- There were significant differences in parameters between babies taking probiotics and those not taking probiotics. This means that the microbes protected the newborn from intestinal disease.
But that’s not all. These other studies have also shown that Lactobacillus reuteri bacteria are beneficial for the proper functioning of the intestine. In this case, a reduction in symptoms associated with infantile colic was observed in infants who received probiotic drops in breast milk.
General Benefits of Probiotics
In general, probiotics are believed to help adults and children in several ways :
- First, when the person taking it takes antibiotics, probiotics promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
- Reduces symptoms of intestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome .
- Lastly, prevent diarrhea caused by an infectious agent.
The dangers of Probiotics for Babies
Probiotics are generally safe, but certain scientific data warns that their use can cause complications.
People with compromised immune systems, heart valve disease, or premature babies are possible risk groups. This is because bacteria tend to multiply disproportionately in these circumstances, leading to gastrointestinal inflammation, overactivation of the immune system and, at worst, bacteremia.
We do not fully know the extent of these diseases in newborns. Long-term use of these bacteria is difficult to ascertain the effect on child development. This is because it could mean years of follow-up for babies who ingested the bacteria.
Some studies have found that infant colic was less common in children who took probiotics.
The use of probiotics in infants appears to have several benefits. But scientific sources warn that the interaction between these microbes and newborn gut health needs to be continued to be studied. Potential risks and side effects should also be assessed.
That’s why it ‘s best to seek advice from a pediatrician who knows your newborn’s medical history better than anyone else and knows what’s best for you. Not everyone should take probiotics, but you should evaluate how much probiotics your parents have.