Drugs Q & A

Can A Child Overdose On Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, mainly bacteria, and yeast that may be able to help prevent and treat some illnesses. Promoting a healthy digestive tract and a healthy immune system are their most widely studied benefits at this time. Probiotics are also commonly known as friendly, good, or healthy bacteria. Probiotics can be supplied through foods, beverages, and dietary supplements.

The idea that bacteria are beneficial can be tough to understand. We take antibiotics to kill harmful bacterial infections and use antibacterial soaps and lotions more than ever. The wrong bacteria in the wrong place can cause problems, but the right bacteria in the right place can have benefits. This is where probiotics come in.

Types of Probiotics

Many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics. They all have different benefits, but most come from two groups. Ask your doctor about which might best help your child.

Lactobacillus. This may be the most common probiotic. It’s the one you’ll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can’t digest lactose, the sugar in milk.

Bifidobacterium. You can find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.

Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.

Can Children Take Probiotics Safely?

Experts recommend that parents wait until a child is over 1 year of age before giving probiotics. Currently, there isn’t enough safety data on probiotics for infants. Children who are seriously ill or who have a compromised immune system should consult a physician before taking probiotics.

Children who are seriously ill or who have a compromised immune system should consult a physician before taking probiotics. Some studies suggest that children with a central line or port should also avoid probiotics. In children with these medical devices, there have been reported cases of sepsis. If your child has a port or central line, always talk to your physician before using probiotics.

Can probiotics cause side effects in children?

Because probiotics are not regulated or tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s unclear if they cause side effects like gas, constipation, or diarrhea. If your child begins to have these issues after they start taking probiotics, you should stop the probiotics to see if the symptoms go away.

Can a child overdose on probiotics?

Yes, taking too many probiotics can lead to bloating, gas, and nausea. Children at greater risk of dangerous side effects are those with a weakened immune system or serious illness. There is no recommended or set dose of probiotics for children. Talk with your child’s pediatrician or a pediatric GI doctor to determine which is the best probiotic supplement and how much to give your child.

How can I promote probiotics naturally in my child?

If your child is a newborn or infant, breastfeeding is the best way to provide probiotics. Breastmilk contains probiotics and prebiotics (food for the good bacteria) from the mother as well as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). These specialized carbohydrates only appear in human breast milk and act as “prebiotic,” encouraging healthy bacteria growth. If you don’t breastfeed, some formulas are now including probiotics and HMOs to help build a baby’s microbiome.

Probiotics Safety Information

Probiotics are considered “generally recognized as safe,” and are widely used in the prevention and treatment of several diseases. However, four types of side effects may be connected with probiotics: systemic infections, risk of deleterious metabolic activities, risk of adjuvant side effects and immunomodulation, and risk of gene transfer.

The most common adverse effects of probiotics include gastrointestinal disorders, such as diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, and abdominal pain. Other side effects include respiratory infections, abscesses, allergic reactions, and severe medical conditions, such as sepsis, fungemia, and endocarditis. In recent years, many species of the genera Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc, Pediococcus, Enterococcus, and Bifidobacterium were isolated from various types of infective lesions. A common use of probiotics may increase the risk of side effects. For More Information Read: Do Probiotics Expire?


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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