Probiotics may have some benefits for children, report says

Associated Press / November 29, 2010

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CHICAGO — There is some evidence that probiotics, or “good’’ bacteria, may have limited benefits for certain illnesses in children, a leading medical group said.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics said that the science is not strong enough to advocate infant formulas with probiotics and that probiotics shouldn’t be given to seriously ill children, according to a report published today in the journal Pediatrics.

About 500 kinds of bacteria live naturally in a healthy human’s intestinal tract, and there is a growing understanding of the role they play. For years, companies have been arguing that their probiotic pills, yogurts, milks, and juices help digestive health and the immune system.

The report summarizes findings from studies on some of the active ingredients in the products. The report said probiotics taken early during diarrhea from a viral infection may shorten the illness in otherwise healthy children. And probiotics also may prevent diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics, which can sometimes cause the condition.

But more evidence is needed before AAP can back probiotics for constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, or Crohn’s disease.

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