In a new clinical report, “Probiotics and Prebiotics in Pediatrics,” in the December 2010 print issue of Pediatrics
(published online Nov. 29), the American Academy of Pediatrics
(AAP) reviews the evidence surrounding the use of probiotics and
prebiotics for children. In otherwise healthy children and infants,
administering probiotics early in the course of diarrhea from acute
viral gastroenteritis can reduce its duration by one day. Probiotics
also have been found to be modestly effective in preventing
antibiotic-associated diarrhea in otherwise healthy children, though
there is no evidence probiotics are effective at treating this type of
There is some evidence to support the use of probiotics to
prevent necrotizing enterocolitis in infants with a birth weight of
more than 1000g, but more studies are needed. More research also is
needed before probiotics can be recommended to treat disorders such as
irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, colic, and constipation,
and to prevent common infections and allergy in children.
or prebiotics added to infant formula and other foods marketed for use
in children do not appear to be harmful to healthy infants and
children, but the clinical efficacy for their addition is insufficient
to recommend their routine use in these formulas.
not be given to chronically or seriously ill children. The long-term
benefits of prebiotics, found in human milk, may be beneficial in
reducing common infections and atopic eczema in healthy children;
however, more research is needed before such recommendations for the
use of prebiotics in infant formula can be made.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.