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Probiotics and Our Children's Health

By Dr. Alison Finger, N.D.

Probiotics are one of my favorite things to talk about. "Why?"

Probiotics are extremely important for a healthy digestive tract, assimilation and absorption of specific nutrients, keeping infections at bay and maintaining a healthy immune system. Research into the role of probiotics has shown some interesting results. The World Health Organization recognizes the importance of probioics in the role of a healthy body as reflected in this statement, "Live microorganisms which, when given in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host."

It is speculated that most of the growing sites for the Lactobacillus species in the human gastrointestinal tract are established in utero and within the first two years of life. Within those first two years many things can disrupt the proper colonization including formula feeding, maternal diet affecting breast milk, digestive health, food introduction and antibiotic use. It is estimated that after several courses of antibiotics before the age of two, the normal flora may be severely compromised, resulting in an increased risk for common childhood illnesses.

One can begin cultivating a healthy digestive tract in children by supplementing either the mother in breast fed babies or in children's formulas or food. It is always important to choose a good quality probiotic that has in it what it claims on the label. So be careful to do your homework on the brand and talk to your naturopathic physician about dosage.

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Dr. Finger is a graduate of the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and practices in Doylestown, PA at the Doylestown Natural Medicine Center.