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Why A Pediatric Doctor Recommends Bifidobacteria for Infant Gut Health with Dr. Jordi Smith

Published October 01, 2023

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When it comes to probiotics for toddlers and kids, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Probiotics are differentiated by strains and each strain has its own special function. Every infant also has a unique gut microbiome, so the best probiotic for your little one may be different from the ideal choice for someone else.
To get the most benefits of probiotics, you need to find the strain targeted to your specific health goals. One probiotic strain that has been well-researched in infants and kids is a bacteria called Bifidobacteria. Let's review why Bifidobacteria is beneficial for gut health in infants.

Improved Digestion

A kid’s gut is similar to a bustling city, filled with numerous microbes. Bifidobacteria in particular plays a pivotal role by facilitating digestion and helping in the absorption of vital nutrients, ultimately creating the foundation for optimal infant gut health [1]. Specifically, Bifidobacterium breve helps prevent constipation in kids and can also help alleviate abdominal pain [2]. Nutrients are efficiently utilized when the gut thrives. This can help your little one’s overall growth and development.

Begin Health Expert Tip: Introducing a toddler and kid’s prebiotic such as Begin Health’s Growing Up Prebiotics supercharges this process by providing nourishment to Bifidobacterium, offering further digestive support for your kiddos.

For more information regarding how prebiotics can help your kid’s digestion, check out our blog on Reasons Why Prebiotic Fiber is Essential for Kids’ Gut Health.

Colic Relief

Colic is characterized by frequent, prolonged, and intense crying. This can be distressing for both infants and parents. Recent research suggests that Bifidobacteria can significantly reduce colic symptoms [3]. In my experience, it is recommended to provide 5-10 billion CFUs of this strain when it comes to supporting infants with colic. This not only brings tranquility to the infants but also paves the way for rejuvenating sleep for fatigued parents. Nurturing gut health can not only indirectly impact overall infant well-being, but provide parents with relief from their little one’s cries as well.

Immune System Support

Creating a strong foundation for immunity is pivotal in the early years. Consuming probiotics in the form of bifidobacteria can help build a stronger immunity as your kiddo’s digestive system matures, since 80% of the immune system is located in the gut [8]. Friendly gut bacteria such as B. infantis, a type of bifidobacteria, have been shown to bolster the immune system, potentially reducing the risk of infections and allergies [4]. In an era where pathogens are everywhere in our environment, solidifying our kid’s immunity is essential, particularly when it's time to venture out, like back to school.

For more tips on how to support your kid’s immunity for back to school, check out our blog here on Immunity Tips for Kids.

Diarrhea Prevention

Diarrhea, particularly in recurrent forms, is a significant concern in pediatric care. B. infantis has been associated with a reduction in episodes of diarrhea, especially those induced by antibiotics or rotavirus [5]. In addition to consuming probiotics that contain bifidobacteria, introducing a prebiotic like Growing Up Prebiotics at the same time to your kiddo’s diet can help boost the overall amount of bifidobacterium. Utilizing both a probiotic and prebiotic together can further boost this defense mechanism to help reduce episodes of diarrhea in your little one’s daily life.

Bowel Movement Regulation

Addressing constipation in toddlers or even chronic constipation is a battle every parent wishes to avoid. Research suggests that B. infantis can support efforts in promoting consistent bowel movements [6], ensuring a comfortable and tear-free toilet experience. For persistent issues, medical testing for pediatric constipation can provide more insights, but regularity starts with a balanced gut.

Begin Health Expert Tip: For a more targeted approach to discover the root of your little one’s digestive issues, check out our Kiddo Poop Test - specifically designed to detect any gut imbalances and provide parents with actionable insights to improve their kiddo’s gut health.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties for Inflammation Support

Inflammation, particularly chronic, can have detrimental effects on an infant's gut. Bifidobacteria, specifically B. infantis, have been recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties to provide a natural approach to manage gut inflammation [7]. This not only provides a holistic way for gut support in kids but also will help with fewer episodes of digestive discomfort.

Summary: Incorporating probiotic-rich foods such as breastmilk for infants or a probiotic supplement can help boost your little one’s Bifidobacteria levels.I recommend incorporating probiotic-rich foods on a daily cadence and taking a probiotic supplement on days that you’re unable to add these into your meals. For little one’s not quite introduced to solid foods yet, I recommend adding a probiotic supplement daily to build up the microbiome from infancy. Combining probiotics like Bifidobacteria with Begin Health’s Growing Up Prebiotics can help boost the overall amount of good gut bacteria and reduce the risk for digestive symptoms such as constipation. The foundation of our kid’s health frequently finds its roots in the integrity of their gut. By incorporating good bacteria like Bifidobacteria, parents can help support both their infant’s digestion and help build the foundation for their immunity.

Resources

[1] Johnson, C.L., Versalovic, J. "The human microbiome and its potential importance to pediatrics." Pediatrics, 2012, 129(5), 950-960.

[2] Tabbers MM, de Milliano I, Roseboom MG, Benninga MA. Is Bifidobacterium breve effective in the treatment of childhood constipation? Results from a pilot study. Nutr J. 2011 Feb 23;10:19. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-10-19. PMID: 21345213; PMCID: PMC3048518.

[3] Chen K, Liu C, Li H, Lei Y, Zeng C, Xu S, Li J, Savino F. Infantile Colic Treated With Bifidobacterium longum CECT7894 and Pediococcus pentosaceus CECT8330: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. Front Pediatr. 2021 Sep 10;9:635176. doi: 10.3389/fped.2021.635176. PMID: 34568236; PMCID: PMC8461252.[4] Holscher, H.D. "Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota." Gut Microbes, 2017, 8(2), 172-184.

[4] Corrêa, N.B., et al. "A randomized formula controlled trial of Bifidobacterium lactis and Streptococcus thermophilus for prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea in infants." Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 2005, 39(5), 385-389.

[5] Chmielewska, A., Szajewska, H. "Systematic review of randomised controlled trials: Probiotics for functional constipation." World Journal of Gastroenterology, 2010, 16(1), 69-75.

[6] Groeger, D., et al. "Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 modulates host inflammatory processes beyond the gut." Gut Microbes, 2013, 4(4), 325-339.

[7] Wiertsema, S. P., Van Bergenhenegouwen, J., Garssen, J., & Knippels, L. (2021b). The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. Nutrients, 13(3), 886. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030886

Dr. Jordi

Dr. Jordi Smith

I am a Pediatric Naturopathic Medical Doctor based in San Diego, CA, specializing in pediatric and preconception care with a proactive approach to prevent future diseases and ensure proper development. I firmly believe in establishing strong foundations for health, as they play a pivotal role in shaping a child's path towards a healthy future. Find more information on my website: www.sdintegrativepeds.com

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