The doctor is in: Probiotics for kids

Do kids need to take a probiotic? 

Probiotics are live cultures that have been shown to support gut/immune health and contribute to the maintenance of balanced gut microbiota. They contain a mix of good bacteria that can help to restore the balance of flora in the gastrointestinal tract and help with uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms.    

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In general, there really are no adverse side effects from adding a daily probiotic to a child’s diet/medication regimen. If your child is consuming a balanced diet and having no gastrointestinal symptoms, it may not be absolutely necessary but it would not hurt. Additionally, if your child is taking antibiotic medication, a probiotic is definitely recommended. This generally helps to alleviate uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea that are common with antibiotics.   

One area that might get overlooked is “times of transition” for kids. New events, such as starting school or even food transitions (formula to solid food, etc.), often cause constipation. In this setting, a daily probiotic would also be beneficial.

If you have more questions about adding a probiotic, talk to your child’s pediatrician for guidance.  

— Kristin Hauck, RD, LD, Pediatric Clinical Dietitian, Adolescent Medicine/Locust Pediatrics, Akron Children’s Hospital