Are probiotics safe for kids?
Washington: Probiotics are very common in yogurt now-a-days, but are they safe for your kid? Well, they don`t pose much of a risk to children, but they don`t benefit them much either, scientists say.
Some studies showed that probiotics may be beneficial in treating and preventing diarrhoea, but the effects are modest.
But, a new study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found no evidence that probiotics provide any relief for kids with constipation, chronic ulcerative colitis, infantile colic or Crohn`s disease.
In the end, attempts to change the community of bacteria in kids` tummies and consequently their health with probiotics may prove futile, the researchers said.
"Given the level of evidence, I can categorically say that I would not recommend parents going out of their way to give probiotics to children," Dr Frank Greer, a professor of pediatrics at Meriter Hospital in Madison, the US, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
"Even if they eat the yogurt with five different probiotics in it, as soon as they stop taking the yogurt," the bacteria in their bodies will revert back to its normal state, said Greer, who was the lead researcher for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that addressed the issue.
Probiotics are food products that contain enough live bacteria to change the composition of the consumer`s gut bacteria, and have the potential for health benefits.
According to the AAP report, use of probiotics has been shown to be modestly effective in randomised clinical trials (RCTs) in treating diarrhoea, preventing certain allergies, eczema or asthma and developing the kids` immune system.
But the results of RCTs not proved that probiotics are beneficial in treating irritable bowel syndrome, chronic ulcerative colitis, infantile colic or Crohn`s disease, or preventing human cancers, the AAP says.
There are also safety concerns with the use of probiotics in infants and children who are immunocompromised, chronically debilitated, or seriously ill with indwelling medical devices.
However, "the current lack of evidence of efficacy does not mean that future clinical research will not establish significant health benefits for probiotics," the AAP said.
It stressed that in healthy, full-term babies, high doses of probiotics don`t appear to cause any ill effects.
It also cautioned that probiotics may pose risks to some children, including preterm babies, children with weakened immune systems and those with catheters or other medical devices inside them. Cases of sepsis have been reported in children and adults who took probiotics.
More research is needed to determine the long-term effects of probiotics on children, the AAP said, adding that if probiotics are, in fact, beneficial for kids, researchers will need to establish how much kids should take and how long they should take it in order to reap the most benefit.