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Originally published February 11 2011

Probiotics improve health of children, but AAP plays it down with skepticism

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) In a new report summarizing the findings of several studies into the health benefits of probiotics for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) acknowledges evidence of benefits but attempts to play it down by emphasizing that the science is not yet strong enough to recommend many uses.

Probiotics are microorganisms that naturally live within the human body and assist with its healthy functioning. These "good bacteria" (although some of them are yeasts or other non-bacterial microorganisms) help with tasks including digestion, immune function, nutrient absorption and bowel function. They naturally occur in many foods, migrating there either from dirt in which plants were grown or from fermentation (as in yogurt or sauerkraut). Pasteurized foods contain no probiotics.

The AAP report concluded that probiotics may shorten viral infections and diarrhea in otherwise healthy children if administered at the beginning of the illness. It also found that probiotics may prevent diarrhea in children who are taking antibiotics, which often destroy good intestinal bacteria along with whatever infectious bacteria they are meant to combat.

Yet the AAP shied away from recommending probiotics for constipation or for inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or irritable bowel syndrome, in spite of a powerful weight of scientific evidence.

"Today you can find more than three hundred studies on PubMed linking probiotics to the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease," writes Donna Jackson Nakazawa in her book "The Autoimmune Epidemic."

"It has become well accepted, says [physician Gerry] Mullin, 'that gut bacteria help drive inflammatory bowel disease and inflammation, and over the past decade an increasing number of studies indicate that by changing the mix of bacteria, probiotics may help patients with these autoimmune diseases of the gut significantly.' "

Responding to the report, Tod Cooperman of warned that many products advertised as probiotic supplemented (such as yogurts) actually contain far lower levels of probiotics than advertised. Natural foods remain the best source for probiotics.

To learn more about how to fight disease with a healthy diet, read the free report "Nutrition Can Save America!" at

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