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Can Kids Take Prebiotics While on Antibiotics?

Published May 23, 2024

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Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to treat bacterial infections in kiddos, but they can also disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to digestive issues such as diarrhea. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, supporting digestive health. But can kids take prebiotics while on antibiotics? Let's explore the science behind this question and understand how prebiotics may help maintain gut health during antibiotic treatment.

Antibiotics and Gut Health

Antibiotics work by killing or inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria that cause infections. However, they can also affect beneficial bacteria in the gut, leading to imbalances that may result in digestive discomfort, diarrhea, or other gastrointestinal issues [1].

Role of Prebiotics for Kid’s Gut Health 

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity. Research has shown that prebiotics can help restore microbial balance in the gut and support digestive health, making them potentially beneficial for kiddos undergoing antibiotic treatment [2].

Begin Health Expert Tip

Can prebiotics such as Begin Health's Daily Growing Up Prebiotics the same as laxatives? Check out what our Health Experts say in this blog post here.

Potential Benefits of Combining Prebiotics with Antibiotics

Prebiotics help replenish the gut microbiome by nourishing good gut bacteria. Antibiotic use can remove both the bad and good gut bugs in the microbiome. Therefore, by providing a source of nourishment for beneficial bacteria, prebiotics may help maintain microbial diversity and reduce the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea [3].

Choosing the Right Prebiotics

When considering prebiotic supplementation for kiddos on antibiotics, it's essential to choose the right type of prebiotic. Not all prebiotics are created equal, and different types may have varying effects on gut health. Common prebiotics include inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) [4].Studies show that kids who regularly consume prebiotics such as those found in inulin can see improvement in stool consistency and frequency within six weeks of daily use. 

Summary 

Preliminary evidence suggests that kiddos may benefit from taking prebiotics while on antibiotics to support gut health by helping good gut bacteria replenish. 

References

  • Francino, M. P. (2015). Antibiotics and the human gut microbiome: Dysbioses and accumulation of resistances.Frontiers in Microbiology, 6, 1543.
  • Gibson, G. R., Hutkins, R., Sanders, M. E., Prescott, S. L., Reimer, R. A., Salminen, S. J., ... & Reid, G. (2017). Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics.Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 14(8), 491–502.
  • Mego, M., Kovač, J., Kmeťová, M., Nagyová, Z., Hronec, J., and Veseliny, E. (2016). Antibiotic-associated diarrhoea: successful prevention with prebiotics in elderly inpatients.Gastroenterology Research and Practice, 2016.
  • Slavin, J. (2013). Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits.Nutrients, 5(4), 1417–1435.
  • Zhang, Y. J., Li, S., Gan, R. Y., Zhou, T., Xu, D. P., and Li, H. B. (2015). Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases.International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16(4), 7493–7519.