Abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, or constipation – are common problems in infants because their GI tract is still maturing and developing. Usually, pediatricians prescribe probiotics for infants to improve the intestinal microbiota and general condition in such cases.
What are probiotics? Does baby formula help a baby cope with digestive issues? Is it safe to give newborn probiotics? These questions concern all new parents without any exception. Let’s try to understand.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria (genus Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus) usually taken as food supplements to maintain gut flora. They are part of the normal flora and support the proper functioning of the GI tract. In other words, it is our shield against pathogens and toxins.
Probiotics are also involved in the synthesis of essential vitamins and acids (for example, folic acid and vitamin B12) and stimulate the formation of fatty acids vital for the normal functioning of the colon.
Baby probiotics and prebiotics
In babies under one year, the GI tract goes through many stages of maturation. This process requires both prebiotics and probiotics. Therefore, formula-fed babies are recommended to give a formula that contains the optimal amount of prebiotics and probiotics. Together they work more efficiently, promote better and easier digestion.
Baby probiotics are considered safe but should be prescribed only by the pediatrician. Before giving probiotics to your baby, it is extremely important to consult a doctor and pass tests to determine precisely what microorganisms are missing and which are in excess. Probiotics are necessary medications for many gastroenterological diseases in babies. They allow rebalancing the intestinal microbiota of the baby, which plays a significant role in many processes.
Probiotics in breast milk
Breast milk is the main source of all essential nutrients for the baby. Also, breast milk contains probiotics and prebiotics and is much more than just food for the baby. The biologically active components of breast milk are critical for the full growth and development of the baby’s immunity.
Bifidobacteria in breast milk stimulate the formation of intestinal microbiota and protective functions of the body. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are also mainly used in baby food.
The modern baby formula must also include these components for a formula-fed baby to properly go through all the stages of digestive system development – just like a breastfed baby. The global baby food market offers many options of infant formula containing probiotics. European brands such as Hipp Organic Baby Formula and Loulouka Formula are quite popular among parents who choose high-quality baby food.
Do babies need probiotics?
Probiotics are used to treat and prevent many diseases. According to the practical recommendations of the World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO), they can be used in such cases:
- Prevention and treatment of diarrhea. The use of probiotics reduces the duration of diarrhea in babies by about one day.
- Infant colic. Several probiotics reduce crying times in breastfed newborns and infants.
- The use of probiotics can also reduce the severity of symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
- Strengthening the immune system.