Taking probiotics daily can reduce the risk of infections in young children, according to a recent study.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria (sometimes referred to as "friendly germs") that help to maintain the health of the intestinal tract and aid in digestion. They also help keep potentially harmful organisms in the gut (harmful bacteria and yeasts) under control. Research suggests that probiotics, especially those in milk or food, may help boost the immune system. However, commercially produced yogurt may not be as effective.
In a new study, researchers assessed the effects of Lactobacillus reuteri on the development and length of diarrhea in 336 healthy young children (6-36 months-old). The children were randomly assigned to receive L. reuteri or a placebo by mouth daily for 3 month and were followed for 3 months after supplementation ended.
The researchers found that L. reuteri supplementation significantly reduced how frequently children had diarrhea and the length of a diarrhea episode when it did occur. Supplementation also reduced the occurrence of respiratory tract infections at both the 3 and 6 month follow-up periods. Furthermore, the children who received L. reuteri also had significantly fewer doctor visits and needed fewer antibiotics than those who received placebo.
The authors concluded that daily use of the probiotic L. reuteri in young children may significantly reduce diarrhea and infections in young children. Further research is warranted.
For more information about probiotics, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.
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