The term ‘probiotics’ comes from ‘pro’ and ‘biota’, which means ‘for life’. They are live bacteria and yeasts which provides health benefits by improving the gut flora and maintain the functionality of the digestive system. Probiotics came into light when the Nobel Laureate Elie Metchnikoff claimed that Bulgarian peasants live longer because of their lifestyle and eating patterns which includes yoghurt.
Many bacteria and yeasts are classified as probiotics such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces bouraldi. Probiotic therapy works in the treatment of various gastric disorders and also prevents and treat several infections like urinary and vaginal infections. Probiotics supplements also treat some common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases, diarrhoea (caused by antibiotics, viruses, bacteria, and parasites).
Why might my baby need a probiotic supplement what are some of the symptoms?
Babies born by caesarean section and/or are bottle-fed tend to not obtain the same gut microflora from their mother in order to inoculate their gut. This can increase the likelihood of atopic conditions including asthma, eczema and allergies. Furthermore, if the mother’s own microflora is out of balance this can increase the need for digestive support. A healthy microbiota is essential for healthy immunity, therefore supporting the health of gut bacteria helps to support the immune system. Some babies with digestive conditions such as colic may also have reduced gut flora.
What does a probiotic do for a baby? Is the probiotic the same as for an adult?
Infants probiotics are not the same as adults as their microflora develops overtime. Infant probiotics are specifically designed to support normal development of an infant’s microflora.
My baby is presenting with a suspected milk allergy from a formula, would a probiotic help?
Gut bacteria plays an essential role in digestion and helps to ferment sugars present in the gut, it also helps to support the integrity of the digestive lining. Milk intolerances can be associated with an imbalance of the microflora as well as increased permeability of the digestive lining, so probiotics may be useful, however other factors may also play a role.
Should I go to the GP before trying a probiotic?
Infant probiotics are considered safe for children of that age so if the baby is healthy it is not necessary, however it is a good idea to mention anything you are giving your baby to your doctor, especially if there are other health conditions too.