, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 251-262
Date: 03 May 2013

Probiotics and Prebiotics in Infants and Children

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Abstract

Probiotics and prebiotics have a major influence on gastrointestinal flora composition. This review analyses the relationship between this change in flora composition and health benefits in children. Literature databases were searched for relevant articles. Despite exhaustive research on the subject in different indications, such as prevention and treatment of acute gastroenteritis, antibiotic associated diarrhea (AAD), traveler's diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Helicobacter pylori, necrotizing enterocolitis, constipation, allergy and atopic dermatitis, colic and extraintestinal infections, reports of clear benefits for the use of prebiotics and probiotics in pediatric disorders remain scarce. The best evidence has been provided for the use of probiotics in acute gastroenteritis and in prevention of AAD. However, AAD in children is in general mild, and only seldom necessitates additional interventions. Overall, the duration of acute infectious diarrhea is reduced by approximately 24 hours. Evidence for clinically relevant benefit in all other indications (inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, allergy) is weak to nonexistent. Selected probiotic strains given during late pregnancy and early infancy decrease atopic dermatitis. Adverse effects have very seldom been reported. Since the risk seems minimal to nonexistent, prebiotics and probiotics may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of some disorders in children, although the evidence for benefit is limited. The best evidence has been accumulated for some lactobacilli strains and for Saccharomyces boulardii in the reduction of the duration of acute diarrhea due to gastroenteritis and prevention of AAD.