Probiotics and Prebiotics are touted as the best things that have emerged on the health front and there are thousands of foods created incorporating these ingredients. They are supposed to work to protect the gut health and prevent development serious GI tract related diseases. Only recently that the EU food safety agency disapproved most claims to be printed on the label of such products because of lack of conclusive evidence. Still consumers have the perception that these foods really work in protecting health in many different ways. This logic has extended to Children also and many parents believe that by feeding children foods containing probiotics can help evolving a beneficial colony of microorganisms as they grow and thus ensure good health when they become adults. This belief has been rebuffed by recent studies and it turns out that feeding children with probiotic foods regularly and religiously does not benefit them in any way. Here is a take on this interesting development.
'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".
While discussing this issue it may not be out of place to mention that probiotics have been found by many scientific studies to be useful in avoiding many stomach related ailments though clinical studies with human subjects are yet to be taken up on a large scale. The issue is further clouded by the fact that there are different areas in the small intestine and colon where different microorganisms colonize and any study using a single strain of probiotic bacteria cannot be expected to give the true picture. However it may be common sense to expect that a large population of beneficial or friendly microorganisms of different types in a closed environment as that exists in the GI tract can "crowd out" small number of pathogens or "unfriendly" microbes that may gain entry, avoiding any damage due to uninhibited proliferation of the latter. Besides role of probiotics to help rehabilitate the gut colony of microorganisms after antibiotic therapy is well recognized. May countries allow labeling of products containing microorganisms like Lactobacillus (LAB), Bifidus bacteria and others as probiotic foods, provided there are at least 1 billion live cells per gm of the product. But classical food microbiologists insist that there should be at least 10 billion Colony Forming Units per gm of the product. Obviously such high concentrations are necessary to factor the likely destruction of these bugs during their transit through the highly acidic environment of the stomach.