Probiotics Confirmed Useless For Babies in Daycare Because This Works Better
Can you give a baby probiotics? Sure, but it's likely they won't work. Probiotics are not necessary for babies in daycare, according to new research, especially for those who have the protective immunity of breast milk, despite other studies claiming the contrary.
Can You Give A Baby Probiotics?
Many parents assume probiotics are necessary and beneficial to children. So much so, that pediatricians often recommend probiotic supplementation for babies, but a quality probiotic can be pricey and as it turns out, useless in preventing illness in children according to new research. A new study published in the journal Pediatrics says you can give a baby probiotics but has come to the conclusion that probiotics do not prevent illness, particularly for children exposed to other childhood diseases in daycare.
Probiotic Supplements Do Not Prevent Illness In Healthy Babies
Previous studies on probiotic interventions in childcare settings have been reported to decrease the risk of common infections in babies and, as a result, decrease the number of missed days at child care but, a high quality study contradicts those results and suggests the daily supplementation of probiotics for six months, did not decrease days absent from child care in healthy infants.
The study did note that age could play a significant role how effective probiotic supplementation is in children and in its influence on their gut health.
The study looked at 290 babies in childcare, who were given probiotics every day for six months. Results showed none of the babies were any less likely to suffer from upper respiratory or gastrointestinal infections.
These findings contrast the past studies that found probiotics cut the risk of gastrointestinal infections among babies in child care. However, “both studies included children who were greater than 4 years of age compared with the children enrolled in this study who were between 8 and 13 months of age.”
What is more, it is unlikely that children greater than 1 year of age will still be exposed to breast milk. Additionally, the gut microbiome of a 5-year-old differs from that of a 10-month-old likely due ot changes in diet the cessation of breastfeeding and the introduction of table foods, which are associated with the evolution of the microbiome to have a more mature composition.
Breastfeeding is Best Feeding
The reason these findings conflict with past studies aren't immediately clear. But child health experts are looking at breast-feeding, since many babies in the current study were breast-fed, which in itself helps ward off infections.
“It's possible any benefit from the probiotics was "overshadowed by the known protective effects of breast-feeding," said Dr. Michael Cabana, a pediatrician at the University of California, San Francisco, who co-authored an editorial published with the study.”He said the bottom line for parents is this: "Breast milk is best."
This important study leads to further questions about the necessity and usefulness of probiotic supplementation however the results may add more information toward understanding how and when probiotic supplementation may have an impact. Until then the best childcare intervention occurs through diet and environmental exposures such as breastfeeding, which most greatly impact gut health. Further studies need to be done on formula fed babies to determine if probiotics are in fact, ore beneficial to their gut health.