As parents we often catch ourselves deep in discussion with other parents about our children’s bodily functions. How many poops? Only once a week? Green with a hint of yellow! The details can get really cringe-worthy. But why are we so fixated on our children’s gut health? It’s possible that when we become parents, we realise, and actually acknowledge that the gut is really important – and it is!
A healthy gut
Did you know that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and an unhealthy gut microbiota increases the risk for infections1,2? As adults we know that when our guts feel crampy, bloated or sore, we can’t really think of much else. The same goes for children. That’s why it’s so important to ensure we maintain a child’s gut flora. One of the ways this can be done is by making sure that you’re feeding ‘good bacteria’ into your child’s gut, with the right foods and supplements. The fibre in grains, fruits and vegetables helps gut bacteria and reduces the chances of constipation.3 In addition, fermented foods such as plain yoghurt really help to increase the right kind of flora in the gut3.
Unfortunately, fast foods, packet chips and processed meat don’t add any value to the gut, so try and avoid giving those to young developing tummies3. Playing with pets, and siblings from a young age, also promotes a healthy mix of beneficial bacteria developing in the gut3. Another way to improve gut flora is to give children a reputable and trusted probiotic. Reuterina junior® is a probiotic that is suitable for children over the age of 2 years, who are able to chew a tablet4. Given daily, Reuterina junior®4 is able to restore and maintain a healthy balance of gut flora5.
When used regularly, Reuterina junior® has been found to help to decrease the number of airway infections in children and reduce the number of sick days at school6 .
Maintaining gut flora
However, despite our best efforts, children do get sick. Illness that results in constipation and diarrhoea4, can also be reduced through the use of probiotics. Reuterina junior® assists in the treatment and prevention of conditions such as constipation.4 In addition, when taking a course of antibiotics, Reuterina junior® can be given alongside antibiotic therapy for at least three days after the antibiotic course has finished4. This helps maintain your child’s gut flora, which can sometimes be killed off through antibiotic use.
Sometimes we find that children just have sore tummies. They may not be ill, or on any medication. They could be eating really well, yet they continue to complain that they have a sore tummy. Most children go through bouts of ‘sore tummy’ moments, but when a painful gut leads to emotional distress and ongoing problems, the child could be suffering from Functional Abdominal Pain or FAP. FAP is described as an ‘episodic or continuous stomach pain without any organic cause’7. This means the pain is not caused by a physical or physiological change to some tissue or organ. Children from 4 to 18 years of age, with a peak between 5 and 12 years are affected by FAP.
Unfortunately, there is no diagnosis or clear reason for FAP, however it should not be discounted or if ongoing, ignored. It is best to meet with your paediatrician or GP and go through a detailed history.7 The good news is that clinical trials have found that Reuterina junior® is able to significantly lower pain intensity in children with FAP.8 This is great news for parents and children.
Some good news
The other amazing thing about probiotics, is that those containing L. reuteri Protectis (a specific strain of bacteria), such as Reuterina junior®, have beneficial effects on diseases we wouldn’t normally associate with the gut. An example is asthma. Asthma can begin at any age, but most children who have it, have their first symptom by age 59. Studies have found that Reuterina junior® helps to reduce inflammation of the airways in children with allergic asthma10, so it makes sense to keep your child’s gut healthy, it will benefit their lungs!
We can now see why gut health is so critical to health, and we can feel comforted in the knowledge that as parents, we aren’t going crazy when we find ourselves discussing our children’s gut health with other parents. We’re actually normal, and we have good reason to be concerned about what’s going on inside – it definitely makes a difference to our children’s well-being and their long-term health.
Choose Reuterina®. Trusted to Perform. Proven to Work 11,12
1. Vighi G, Marcucci F, Sensi L et al. Allergy and the gastrointestinal system. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep; 153(Suppl 1): 3–6.
2. Zhang Y, Li S, Gan R et al. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases. Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Apr; 16(4): 7493–7519.
3. https://www.uhhospitals.org/Healthy-at-UH/articles/2017/03/6-ways-to-boost-your-childs-gut-health Accessed 15 Dec 2021
4. Reuterina junior® Approved Package Insert, July 2010.
5. Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria, October 2001. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/publications fs_management/en/ probiotics.pdf.
6. Wang Y, Xiaolu Li, Ting GE, et al. Probiotics for prevention and treatment of respiratory tract infections in children A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine 2016;95(31):E509.
7. FAP consumer brochure 2021 BIOGAIA
8. Romano C, Ferrau V, Cavataio F, et al. Lactobacillus reuteri in children with functional abdominal pain (FAP). J Paediatric Child Health 2014;50(10):E68-E71.
9. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6776-asthma-in-children#:~:text=Asthma%20can%20begin%20at%20any,first%20symptom%20by%20age%205. Accessed 15 Dec 2021
10. Miraglia del Giudice M, Maiello N, Decimo F, et al. Airways allergic inflammation and Lactobacillus reuteri treatments in asthmatic children. Journal of Biological Regulators & Homeostatic Agents 2012;26(1S):35-40.
11. Data on File.
12. Guarner F, et al. World Gastroenterology Organisation (WGO) Global Guidelines. Probiotics and prebiotics, February 2017.