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Immune Support Game Changers for Kids: L. Acidophil Usand B., Lactis

While we are beginning to understand the influence of probiotic microbes, our level of current knowledge is most likely only the tip of the iceberg. We know that probiotic bacteria and yeasts provide support to our digestive tract and help us break down and absorb nutrients. We also know that they can help to protect our digestive tract from more pathogenic organisms by consuming space and resources. We are beginning to understand the complex ways that probiotics communicate and interact with our immune cells, increasing and balancing their function.

There are many child-friendly options for probiotics. Many parents find it easiest to use a powdered form of probiotics that can easily mix into food or drink. For toddlers and older children, a chewable may be a preferred form. There are even creative options, such as drinking straws lined with probiotics that can allow kids to sip their medicine without even knowing!

I had a teacher who called probiotics our “second immune system.” It has been suggested that probiotics may support our immune function by increasing the number of IgA-producing plasma cells, by increasing or improving phagocytosis, and/ or by increasing the proportion of T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells.These immune defenses are crucial for proper identification and elimination of viruses, microbes, and antigens that pose a threat to the body. Probiotics have been well-studied for their protective effects against digestive infections including rotavirus, the leading cause of diarrhea in children, and are now being further studied to determine their role in decreasing the incidence of respiratory tract infections.

In April 2012, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics International demonstrated that school-age Thai children (ages 8-13) taking a probiotic containing L. acidophilus and B. bifidum over the three-month study period had significantly lower risk of fever, cough, rhinorrhea, school absence, and common cold than children in the placebo qroup.” This study’s results are consistent with the results reported in August 2009 in Pediatrics demonstrating that children aged 3-5 taking a probiotic containing L. acidophilus NCFM strain in combination with Bifidobacterium lactis for six months effectively reduced fever, rhinorrhea, and cough incidence and duration, as well as decreasing the need for antibiotic prescription and the number of school days missed due to illness. A Finnish study published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 also demonstrated nonsignificant trending of decreased frequency and severity of illness among children aged 1-6 in daycare centers who took a daily probiotic.” With ~; rampant concerns of overuse of antibiotic therapies combined with the annual “superbug” that seems to take the press by storm each fall, it seems like use of a probiotic in children (and adults) may be a logical choice to provide the additional support our immune system needs to stay healthy.

When thinking about immune health, consider stepping outside of your usual choices of vitamin C, echinacea and other botanicals. Probiotics, especially Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, show much promise in supporting the immune system in children and may serve many other health supporting functions at the same time.

There are many child-friendly options for probiotics. Many parents find it easiest to use a powdered form of probiotics that can easily mix into food or drink. For toddlers and older children, a chewable may be a preferred form. There are even creative options, such as drinking straws lined with probiotics that can allow kids to sip their medicine without even knowing!

By Jaclyn Chasse, N.D.

 

Tags: L. Acidophilus, B. Lactis, probiotic powder