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Probiotics in Children

Introduction

“Probiotics are live organisms (Good Bacteria) which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” as per FAO/WHO – 2001. Probiotics are known as friendly microorganisms that can be good bacteria or yeast, which can colonize in the gut and have beneficial effect on digestion and bowel health.

Probiotics help to fight infections of the digestive tract, keeping the bad bacteria under check and improving the immune system in the body of children.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast, which has been found to be used as a probiotic in children to prevent or cure gastrointestinal infections such as acute diarrhoea, prevention of antibiotic induced diarrhoea and promote healthy immune system. Saccharomyces boulardii the yeast, is widely used as an important a adjunct in a child’s digestive health, as children frequently suffer from digestive disorders and bowel problems.

What Do You Know About Saccharomyces Boulardii?

  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a tropical species of yeast (type of fungus) used as a medicine or probiotic that can fight off infection causing organisms such as bacteria and fungus in the gut.
  • It is a non-pathogenic, non-systemic eukaryotic microorganism which can grow in both aerobic and anaerobic conditions and at a high temperature of 37 degree centigrade.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a probiotic which can take the place of pathogenic or bad bacteria of the gut and provide health benefits in children, who are vulnerable and susceptible to general digestive problems like indigestion and constipation, and gastrointestinal infections like diarrhoea, making it the best adjunct for digestive health in children.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is also found to help children for lactose intolerance.
  • It is a useful adjunct to treat antibiotic induced diarrhoea, as it is resistant to antibiotics and can be taken along with antibiotics.
  • As it can be stored at room temperature than other probiotics it can be available freely.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is found to be safe and effective in children, provided it is used in the recommended dose.

Benefits of Saccharomyces Boulardii, That Make It a Wonderful Probiotic for Digestive Health?

Saccharomyces boulardii has many beneficial properties on the gut such as –

  1. Fights pathogenic organisms:-
    • Inhibits the growth of pathogenic microbes and prevents invasion of pathogens.
    • Inactivates the bacterial toxins produced by bad bacteria.
    • Protects the intestinal lining from harmful pathogens (bacteria or fungal).
    • Fixation and elimination of pathogenic microbes from the gut.
  2. Helps to maintain water and electrolyte balance:-
    • Normalises the water and electrolyte loss during diarrhoea (loose stools)
    • Promotes bowel fluid balance and decreases diarrhoea.
    • Reduces sodium and water loss and prevents dehydration.
  3. Improves healthy immune system:-
    • Improves the body’s immune system to fight the infections.
    • Increases gut mediated immunity by stimulation of secretory immunoglobulins A synthesis in the gut associated lymphoid tissue which helps to strengthen the digestive tract defences against infections.
  4. Aides digestive enzymes:-
    • For good digestion of food
    • For absorption of nutrients
  5. Improves bowel health:-
    • Regulates intestinal motility and reduces constipation.
    • Reduces inflammation of the bowel in inflammatory bowel disease.
  6. Stimulates production of short chain fatty acids:-
    • Stimulates the enterocytes growth and differentiation which helps in antibiotic induced diarrhoea to restore gut health.

Diarrheal Diseases in Children

Most common bowel problem seen in children due to various reasons.

  1. Acute Diarrhoea
    Acute diarrhoea is often caused by bacteria or viruses which increase the frequency of bowel movements and causes loose stools or diarrhoea. WHO definition – Diarrhoea is the passage of 3 or more loose or liquid stools per day or more frequently than the normal. Rota virus diarrhoea is more common in children.

    Diarrhoea may lead to fluid and electrolyte imbalance that can cause dehydration and fatigue. Clostridium difficile can also cause diarrhoea though not common in children.

  2. Antibiotic Induced Diarrhoea
    Diarrhoea can occur in those who are on antibiotic therapy. Some antibiotics can destroy / damage the intestinal flora and mucosa by the antibiotics.
  3. Persistent Diarrhoea

    WHO defines persistent diarrhoea as an episode which starts acutely, but which persists for 14 days or longer. The complications caused with persistent diarrhoea are malnutrition and severe extra intestinal infection.

How Does Saccharomyces Boulardii Help Treat Diarrhoea & Gut Issues in Children

A) Saccharomyces boulardii, through its different mechanism of actions mentioned below, helps to control diarrhoea in children.

  • Shortens the duration of diarrhoea in infants and kids.
  • Reduces the frequency of stools in acute diarrhoea.
  • Decreases the length of stay in hospital for acute diarrhoea or acute gastroenteritis.
  • Decreases abdominal discomfort or pain.
  • Reduces the risk of antibiotic associated diarrhoea.
  • Improves the immune response in children to fight the gastrointestinal infections like acute gastroenteritis.

B) Saccharomyces boulardii helps to eradicate Helicobacter pylori infection which affects the digestion and can cause ulcers.

C) Saccharomyces boulardii improves bowel health by controlling the intestinal motility and reducing the inflammation in the bowel. It improves the intestinal health in bowel disorders such as Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, Ulcerative colitis).

D) Long term probiotics administration can help prevent relapse in chronic infections.

How Is Diarrhoea Managed in Children?

  • Diarrhoea in children is managed depending on the symptoms and signs of dehydration.
  • A child with mild symptoms of diarrhoea may be treated at home with oral fluids and a child with severe symptoms and dehydration should be hospitalised.
  • Fluid and electrolytes replacement is usually the choice of treatment for diarrhoea, Probiotics and Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to be effective in the management of diarrhoea.
  • Antibiotics are added to the treatment if the cause of diarrhoea is due to infection. Saccharomyces boulardii is a good adjunct to be taken with antibiotics for diarrhoea.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii is a proven probiotic in the management of diarrhoea and alternative to antibiotics which has more side effects.

Which Foods Contain Saccharomyces Boulardii Probiotic?

  • It is important to add probiotic foods like yogurt to the child’s diet to keep the intestinal microbes healthy.
  • Foods which contain Saccharomyces boulardii are –
    • Yogurt
    • Kefi
    • Sauerkrant
    • Miso
    • Kembucha
    • Kimchi

How to Take Saccharomyces Boulardii?

  • The probiotic Saccharomyces boulardii is available in capsule or powder form and can be taken orally either as a single medicine or in combination with other probiotics. The powder form can be mixed in water and drank.
  • Saccharomyces boulardii can be taken as adjunct with antibiotics.
  • It is safe and effective when taken by mouth in appropriate dose.

Conclusion

Probiotics are known as good bacteria and help to maintain healthy gut flora for a healthy intestinal ecosystem, that will lead to healthy digestion and bowel health necessary for a happy and healthy life. Saccharomyces boulardii the yeast organism is widely used for digestive disorders and bowel problems in children.

S. boulardii is a probiotic with proven efficacy in the treatment of many digestive disorders and especially when used for antibiotic induced diarrhoea. To keep the intestinal microbiome healthy in children you can add probiotic foods like yogurt to their diet.

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