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Good Belly Bugs

May 4, 2012

Stomach aches, gas, bloating ... All parents wish there were a way to prevent or at least ease their child's tummy pain.

One solution often overlooked is probiotics. You know that antibiotics kill bacteria. Probiotics add "good" bacteria into the gut.

With more than 25 years' experience as a board certified gastroenterologist, Dr. Shekhar Challa has written a new book "Probiotics for Dummies," which takes the mystery out of the way bacteria behaves in the body and describes exactly what parents can do to gain control over your child's digestive system and everything else that depends on it.

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Probiotics restore a healthy balance between friendly and bad bacteria in the intestinal tract, a balance that is critical for the health of the entire body, Challa says. Probiotics can be found in the live cultures present in yogurt, and can also be taken in supplement form. Whenever a child is prescribed an antibiotic, consider giving him a probiotic as well, because the antibiotic kills both "good" and "bad" bacteria.

In addition, parents should consider administering probiotics to their children when, according to Challa:

- they attend daycare. Even in the best of facilities, keeping children healthy at daycare can prove tricky. With groups of children playing and eating together, a child is bound to come into contact with at least some bit of bad bacteria that can make him or her sick. Challa explains about the positive preventative impact that adding probiotics to your child's diet can have on staying healthy in daycare.

- they are born by C-section. While the number of births in the U.S. fell by 3 percent from 2009 to 2010, the number of women giving birth by C-section has remained around the 32 percent range over the past couple of years. Children are born without intestinal flora, but children born vaginally ingest bacteria from their mothers during the birth process. From that point on, the gut flora in the child grows over the next few weeks and starts building the immune system. This is how a healthy gut environment forms from birth. Children born by C-section, however, are not exposed to the maternal flora and have abnormal gut flora for the first few months of life, Challa said. One study of C-section-delivered children found that 6-month-old infants had half the amount of normal gut flora as naturally born babies.

For more about the book, visit For more information about probiotics and children, visit



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