A Publication of WTVP

Bacteria have a crucial effect on a person’s state of health. But are all bacteria bad for you? Absolutely not! In the human intestine, especially, beneficial bacteria control the growth and activities of harmful bacteria. They also help to build and maintain a strong gastrointestinal barrier against the invasion and damage caused by harmful bacteria or viruses.

With a surface area 150 times larger than that of the skin, the human intestine contains more than 500 different types of bacteria. The total number of bacteria in the human intestine is estimated at approximately 100 trillion—more than the total number of cells in the human body. There is compelling evidence that increasing the number of beneficial bacteria in the intestine can improve a person’s overall health.

Benefits of Probiotics in Children
The word probiotic means “favorable to life.” Probiotics are live bacteria that help to treat or prevent a disease when taken in adequate amounts. They are also called “good bacteria” or “friendly bacteria.”

The concept of probiotics is not new. Fermented milk product, a good source of probiotics, was used for its health benefits on the Indian subcontinent before the evolution of modern medicine. Many years later, in 1907, the concept of using friendly bacteria to kill or prevent the spread of harmful bacteria was introduced by Elie Metchnikoff, a Russian Nobel Laureate microbiologist.

Because bacteria are known to cause disease, the concept of using bacteria to treat or prevent disease is hard to swallow. But probiotic supplements have received a lot of attention in the U.S. during the past 10 years. There is convincing evidence that probiotics are helpful in a number of pediatric diseases. Benefits of probiotics to children include:

  1. Shortening the duration of infectious diarrhea
  2. Preventing diarrhea associated with antibiotic therapy
  3. Preventing eczema
  4. Preventing milk protein allergy
  5. Preventing and treating inflammation following colon surgery
  6. Preventing Crohn’s disease
  7. Preventing and treating vaginal yeast infections and urinary tract infections
  8. Preventing respiratory tract infection and ear infection in children attending daycare
  9. Preventing tooth decay and periodontal disease
  10. Preventing intestinal damage in premature infants.

See Your Doctor First
Probiotics are truly a timeless concept. The potential uses for these organisms may extend far beyond what was originally thought. Keep in mind, however, that all strains are not necessarily useful. A specific strain of probiotics is effective for a specific disease or condition. It is vital to know which probiotics to use, and choosing the right one is a difficult decision.

Hundreds of probiotics are available on the drug store shelf. Probiotic supplements don’t undergo the testing and approval process that pharmaceuticals do, and manufacturers’ claims on the labels may not be true presentations of the products. Talk with a physician who is familiar with probiotics to identify which one is right for your child. iBi