Search Results for "probiotics"

Probiotic Promises Deliver (Article)

For years, researchers have felt that some species of bacteria introduced into the stomachs of children make their immune systems stronger and better able to fend off illness. As a group, these microbes are termed probiotic. A few years ago, physicians in Israel put this theory to the test and found that, indeed, some types of bacteria (Lactobacillus Reuteri and Bifidobacterium lactis) did make young children more able to fight off gastrointestinal viral infections. Recently, in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics, we now have good evidence that children on this side of the Atlantic get benefit from the same type of healthy probiotic bacteria.

Dr. Pedro Gutierrez-Castrellon, MD, DSc studied 336 children attending daycare in Mexico City. The study was designed well, being randomly assigned, double blinded, and placebo controlled. Studies designed this way generally yield accurate results, and indeed, the results were dramatic. Children who received the probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus Reuteri had very dramatic improvement in the following health measures: the number of days with diarrhea or respiratory illness was reduced among the treatment group by a whooping 66%; antibiotic use, days absent from daycare, and number of visits to a healthcare facility were also significantly reduced. What is not to love about probiotics for children?! We now have two well designed studies coming to the same conclusion: certain types of probiotics improve the health of young children.

Integrative pediatricians have been telling us for years that probiotics and cultured/fermented foods, loaded with bacteria and other microbes, improve the health of both children and adults. This latest study proves that they were right. It is time that we stop looking at all microbes as our enemies and learn how to harness the incredible power of some of earth’s smallest creatures. For more on this fascinating subject, take a few minutes and listen to integrative pediatrician Sheila Kilbane talk about the power of probiotics on an archived

Your comments are welcome!  Until next time.

Written by Paul Smolen M.D.

Smo Notes:



Probiotcs can Prevent C. Diff Diarrhea (Article)

Doctors have recently begun to see an increase in an unusual cause of diarrhea in children caused by a bacterial germ called Clostridium Difficille, also known as C. diff.  . In the past, C. diff was often seen in the elderly who were staying in hospitals or long-term care facilities, but recent studies show that the disease affects younger children with increasing frequency. The infection is typically contracted after a child  receives an antibiotic treatment at a health care facility. Illness with C. diff. may typically appears days or weeks later. The antibiotics used in the treatment of many childhood maladies such as ear infections, seems to inadvertently kill off a much of the healthy bacteria in the colon, allowing, C. diff bacteria to take hold in the colon and multiply rapidly. Symptoms range from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon, known as colitis. Unfortunately, the infection affects over half a million people every year, and is becoming increasingly difficult health problem to treat.

Thankfully, many doctors have started to take preventative actions against C. diff as awareness about its risks become more widespread.  Recent studies have found that a course of probiotics (a supplement containing healthy gut bacteria) prescribed to healthy children before and while taking antibiotics reduces the incidence of C. diff related illness by as much as 66%. Probiotic treatments are relatively inexpensive and readily available without prescription, and have proven to be extremely effective at reducing the side effects of antibiotics. Since C. diff infections can extend hospital stays by as long as 21 days and may add almost $100,000 in treatment cost, probiotics are invaluable weapons against the disease. Though other treatments to prevent C. diff are being developed such as the antibody therapies, probiotics are by far the easiest and most affordable way to prevent C. diff.

Parents can gladly embrace this as a golden opportunity.  Since antibiotics are often prescribed to our children with great results, but it’s very important to be aware of the risks associated with their use. Ask your doctor about the risks specific to the antibiotic your child may need to take  and see if probiotics can offer a preventative course of action.  Probiotics offer a low-risk way to protect your child, improving their health in a very “natural” way.

Your comments are welcome.  To leave a comment, visit  While your there, feel free to explore literally hundreds of articles and posts about interesting topics that affect your child’s health and well being. Until next time.


Smo Notes:



Are Your Kids Too Clean? (Pedcast)

Voice intro:

Welcome to another edition of Portable Practical Pediatrics. I’m your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, also known as Doc Smo. From the bassinet to the board room, if the topic involves children, we talk about it here. I frequently get asked by the parents of my patients, “Why do so many children have food allergy, asthma, and eczema today? Most of these parents don’t remember their friends having nearly the incidence of allergy that today’s children do and that was just a few decades ago. What is going on, they ask? Well, my answer is that we really don’t know, but we are beginning to get closer to an answer. For years, immunologists and allergists have been talking about something called the Hygiene Hypothesis to explain all of this allergy. Recent observations have made this less of a theory and more of an explanation. Experts are beginning to have some understanding. So in today’s pedcast, I thought we would talk about some of this evidence and introduce you to the current thinking about allergies and children. The hope is if we can understand what is driving the allergy epidemic, we can help protect future kids from suffering from with terrible allergies. Continue reading