Let Your Kids Eat Dirt! Kids + Probiotics

Let your kids eat dirt: Kids and Probiotics

This is the new advice for parents raising their kids in the era of ‘free-range’ parenting.  “Let them get dirty!” and “They need to develop grit.” are the advice nouveau. Less oversight, more freedom.

The western lifestyle has changed enormously since the industrial revolution.  Antibiotics have revolutionized healthcare, we eat more wheat, more processed foods and less seasonal fruits and vegetables.  Consequently, our microbes have changed.  Researchers believe some of these changes are not for the better, potentially resulting in increased rates of autoimmune disease and allergy.

Is it enough to just let the kids get dirty anymore, or is there more to their long term health?  This isn’t the era of livestock in the backyard, not even the soil is the same.  Admittedly, there are no concrete answers to these questions. But we are beginning to see some trends in the research: a more diverse and stable gut microbiome usually is a healthier one.

Probiotics and Pediatrics

Doctors and researchers have begun to see the benefit of supplementing infants and children with probiotics for various conditions.  Probiotics are often used in hospitals for infants with necrotizing enterocolitis (an intestinal disease that typically occurs in premature formula-fed infants).  Probiotics  have been found in clinical studies to have beneficial effects on colicky babies.

Increasingly, professional journals like the Journal of Family Practice are publishing guidelines for the use of probiotics for acute infectious diarrhea, antibiotic associated diarrhea, to aid Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms and to help prevent C. difficile infections [1].  These recommendations are for children and adults, given the safety profile of probiotics in general.

Probiotics have been shown to prevent upper respiratory tract infections as well as shorten the duration of the common cold and flu.  Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that six months of a daily probiotics regime is a safe and effective way to decrease cough duration, cough incidence, fever and antibiotic use for children 3 to 5 years old [2].  Physicians also are often recommending a probiotic accompany any treatment with an antibiotic to ward off antibiotic induced diarrhea or to help treat acute infectious diarrhea [3].

kidsProbiotics, Allergies and Children

Some studies have shown a preventative benefit of probiotics for children at high risk of allergy [4] although there are some mixed results.  The specific way probiotics work to modify the allergic response is still mostly a mystery and likely highly complex [5,8].  However, studies have shown that immune response in patients can be modified by the use of probiotics [5].

Bifidobacterium lactis,  Lactobacillus paracasei and Lactobacillus acidophilus are three oft studied strains all of which are found in H2PROTM. Generally, these strains have been found to modulate immune responses as well as inflammation in the body.  H2PROTM has four well researched strains that are safe and easy to take for children and adults.

Probiotics, Pregnancy, Birth and Breastfeeding

Probiotics have been shown to have a variety of beneficial effects on pregnant and nursing mothers as well as their children.

During pregnancy the immune system is depressed, often resulting in colds or other illnesses in the mother.  Probiotics have been shown to boost the immune system and along with the micronutrients found in H2PROTM may be a way to decrease illness frequency or duration during pregnancy.

Studies have shown an immune modulatory and metabolic effect of probiotics taken during pregnancy, which may potentially prevent conditions of metabolism in pregnant mothers such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes [6]. Additionally, infants have been found to have higher concentration of gut microbes when breastfed by mothers who took a probiotic than those that did not.  Furthermore, infants whose mothers took lactobacilli resulted in infants with a lower risk of developing atopic dermatitis later in childhood [1].

Babies are exposed to a large community of bacteria, particularly Lactobacilli, when they are born vaginally.  This community has evolved over time to be particularly beneficial to newborns.  In fact, C-section babies have a different early microbiome compared to vaginally delivered babies [7].  This makes sense since their first interactions with microbes are those of the skin and surfaces of their environment rather than the vaginal microflora[7].

Breastfeeding also influences the microbial community of an infant’s gut.  In fact, infants that are breastfed have a different gut microbiome than infants who are bottle fed [1].  Indeed, breastfeeding has many benefits for the child including the important transfer of immune cells like immunoglobin, T-cells and bacteria.

Science has yet to tease out all of the details but we do know that the microbes a mother passes to her child are an important part of immune development.

A high-quality probiotic like H2PRO™ while pregnant and nursing supports a healthy immune system and microbiome and gets baby off to a great start.

Love your guts, love your baby’s guts too.


1 Baldassarre et al. (2014) Is it possible to modulate microbiota in the perinatal period?  Journal of  Clinical Case Reports  4 (6).

2 Leyer, G.J., et al. (2009) Probiotic Effects on Cold and Influenza-Like Symptom Incidence and Duration in Children. Pediatrics. 124(2): e172-179.

3 Schneiderham, Jill et al. (2016) Targeting gut flora to treat and prevent disease. Journal of Family Practice. 65(1):33-38.

4 Kalliomaki, Markho et al. “Guidance for Substantiating the Evidence for Beneficial Effects of Probiotics: Prevention and Management of Allergic Diseases by Probiotics.” Journal of Nutrition.  2010; 140(3):7135-7215.

5 Yang, Gui et al. “Treatment of Allergic Rhinitis with Probiotics: An Alternative Approach” N Am J Med Sci. 2013; 5(8): 465–468.

6 Lindsay, Karen et al. (2012) Probiotics in pregnancy and maternal outcomes: a systematic review. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 26(8) 772-778.

7 Shockman, Elizabeth. (January 31, 2016) How important is breastmilk and delivery method to a newborns health? Science Friday, Public Radio International. Retrieved from: http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-01-31/how-important-breast-milk-and-delivery-method-newborn-s-health

8 Ouwehand, Arthur C. “Antiallergic Effects of Probiotics.” Journal of Nutrition. 2007; 137(3): 7945-7975.


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