The Importance Of Probiotics For Kids
  /   Dr. John Snow

The Importance Of Probiotics For Kids

Gut bacteria are an important part of the gut microbiome ecosystem and play an essential role in human health. As scientists continue to uncover the gut’s growing role in health, more people are interested in taking a proactive approach to gut health. That’s where probiotics come in as a natural way to support the gut. But what about the importance of probiotics for kids? Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering a kids’ probiotic. 

Understanding Probiotics

Despite the importance of gut health, one survey found that two-thirds of adults experience recurring digestive problems like gas and bloating, but few seek help. The survey also found that most people are unaware of the importance of gut health or how to improve it. 


Research into gut health is expanding, with scientists studying how the gut could impact skin conditions, mental health, and chronic diseases. 


Gut balance is incredibly important for our health and that of our children, and probiotics play a role in supporting it. Think of the gut as an ecosystem that thrives on diverse and healthy bacteria. 


The word “bacteria” might sound bad to some, but it’s vitally important for your gut. Your gut microbiome has trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, both harmful and beneficial. Good bacteria helps to keep things running smoothly and may contribute to the following: 



Without enough good bacteria, the harmful bacteria can outweigh the good, creating an imbalance in the gut. If bad bacteria has the chance to thrive, it can lead to signs of poor gut health, like: 


  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Bloating and gas 
  • Stomach aches 

So, why take probiotics? 


Probiotics are essentially live, good bacteria that you can introduce to your gut through either supplements or fermented foods like kimchi, kombucha, miso, cottage cheese, and sauerkraut. They work in a few ways


  • Replenish good bacteria and help increase the population of good bacteria, supporting a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut. 
  • Probiotics make it harder for harmful bacteria to thrive. 
  • Help support the gut lining. 

The Benefits

If you’re considering probiotics for your kids, you’re probably wondering what do probiotics do for kids? Let’s take a look at the science. 


By replenishing good bacteria and helping to restore balance in the gut, probiotics help to aid digestion. A growing body of research shows the potential that probiotics hold for various aspects of children’s health, especially those related to immune function and digestion.


Some studies suggest that probiotics may reduce the duration and severity of diarrhea caused by certain viruses or infections in children. 


Other research indicates that probiotics could be beneficial for managing constipation in children, although more studies are needed to make a conclusive recommendation. Probiotics may also offer some relief from irritable bowel syndrome symptoms like bloating and abdominal pain. 


When talking about gut health, we talk about a healthy balance of gut bacteria. In some cases, disruption to gut bacteria can lead to unwanted side effects. For instance, while antibiotics can be a powerful tool in modern medicine and effectively fight bacteria, they can also wipe out harmful and beneficial bacteria in the gut. This type of collateral damage may lead to a disruption in the gut microbiome, which can affect various functions such as immune regulation, metabolic activities, and overall health


After taking antibiotics, probiotics may help by restoring the balance and replenishing all those good bacteria. 


Some evidence suggests those currently taking antibiotics may also benefit from probiotics. Taking probiotics may help to ease some of the unpleasant side effects of antibiotics, especially diarrhea. While probiotics don’t completely prevent all antibiotic-associated diarrhea, they may reduce the risk and severity. Before starting children’s probiotics, especially alongside antibiotics, consult your doctor. They can advise you on the right strain, dosage, and potential interactions with any medications. 


The effectiveness of probiotics, in this case, appears to depend on the specific strain used. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and Saccharomyces boulardii consistently show promising results, supporting their use for reducing antibiotic-associated diarrhea


Research also suggests that probiotics may help immune function and lessen the frequency and duration of colds and ear infections in children. Again, the effectiveness appears to vary depending on the probiotic strain and your child’s health. 

Side Effects

Your child can get probiotics naturally through their diet as well as in a supplement form. Generally, probiotics have a long history of apparently safe use, but it’s important to follow the recommended dosage according to your child’s doctor. 


Parents and caregivers should be aware of the following: 


  • Not a Magic Cure: Probiotics are not a cure-all for children's digestive problems or other health issues. Effectiveness may vary depending on the specific condition and the strain used. 
  • Dosage and Strain Matter: Different probiotic strains may offer different benefits. It's essential to choose a strain appropriate to your child's needs and to follow the recommended dosage on the label. 
  • Underlying Health Conditions: Children with weakened immune systems, chronic illnesses, or those undergoing medical procedures should always consult their pediatrician before using probiotics. 
  • Regulation and Quality Control: Probiotics are considered dietary supplements in the U.S., and regulations are much less strict than those for medications. Look for reputable brands that perform quality control measures to ensure product safety and the viability of the bacteria.  

In some cases, your child’s doctor may recommend against using probiotics: 


  • Antibiotic Interactions: If your child is on antibiotics, talk to your doctor about potential interactions with probiotics. 
  • Central Lines and Ports: There have been reported cases of probiotic-associated sepsis in children with central lines or ports. Although probiotic strains are generally safe, they could potentially enter the bloodstream through a catheter and cause infection. 

Always consult your child's pediatrician before starting probiotics or changing their current medical routine. Your child’s doctor is best positioned to assess your child’s situation and provide personalized recommendations based on their specific needs. 

Supplements vs. Foods

Picky eating habits or simply not experiencing fermented foods can limit your little one’s intake of probiotic-rich foods. 


So, are probiotics good for kids? Whether kids should take probiotics is a personal choice. If you’re wondering whether probiotic supplements or food is better, we always suggest a food-first approach to getting those key nutrients. However, many children (and adults) might struggle to get probiotics from food alone. 


Keep in mind that while certain foods contain probiotics, processing and storage methods can sometimes impact the amount of active probiotics in food. So, unless you can run lab tests, you can’t know how much friendly bacteria have made it out of the food alive. 


The most common bacteria in probiotics belong to groups called Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Even between probiotic supplement products, how much active bacteria you get can be a big difference. Not all probiotics are created equal, and supplements can differ; here’s why: 


  • Strain: Different strains have unique properties and potential benefits. 
  • Dosage: The number of colony-forming units in probiotic supplements is another crucial factor to consider. 
  • Delivery System: The way the probiotic is delivered can impact effectiveness. 
  • Quality Control and Storage: Choose reputable brands that follow strict quality control measures to ensure both safety and the presence of live bacteria. 

Hiya Kids Daily Probiotic Supplement

The best probiotics for kids use strains with research backing their effectiveness and are designed specifically for children. 


From a young age, a child’s gut can affect their overall health, from proper digestion to immune function. While many probiotics are formulated for adults, kids are known to have unique needs. That’s why Hiya’s chewable Kids Daily Probiotic is specifically formulated for growing bodies and made for picky eaters. Hiya’s probiotic is packed with 10 billion live cultures, including three of the most studied probiotic strains for children, supporting immune function, digestion, and gut health. Plus, it's sugar, gluten, and dairy-free with no gummy junk. 

Giving Your Child Probiotics: The Bottom Line

While adding more fermented foods to your child’s diet is a great idea, this isn’t always the easiest route for many parents, especially with picky eaters. Talk to your doctor about probiotics if you notice signs your child might benefit from them. They can help you decide if a probiotic supplement, like Hiya’s Kids Daily Probiotic, fits your child's needs. 


Sources 


Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases | NIH


Two-Thirds of Americans Are Living With Gut Issues, Unaware of the Health Consequences | PR Newswire 


Probiotics: current landscape and future horizons | NIH


Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease | NIH


Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ | NIH


The Human Microbiome and Its Impacts on Health | NIH


The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies | NIH


Effects of probiotics on gut microbiota: mechanisms of intestinal immunomodulation and neuromodulation | NIH


The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health | NIH


Probiotics: mechanism of action, health benefits and their application in food industries | NIH


Universal Recommendations for the Management of Acute Diarrhea in Nonmalnourished Children | NIH   


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Prescribing an antibiotic? Pair it with probiotics | NIH  


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