We usually think of bacteria as harmful germs but many bacteria actually help our body function properly. Probiotics (meaning “for life) are thought to improve our health in a number of ways such as by reducing harmful bacteria in the large intestine or by increasing the number of “good” intestinal bacteria.
Many parents give their children products containing probiotics with the belief that probiotics will improve bowel function as well as other GI symptoms and that probiotics are safe.
The fact is that the FDA has not approved any health claims for probiotics and although most people do not experience negative side effects or have only mild side effects, such as gas, there have been case reports of serious adverse side effects.
Remember that probiotics sold as supplements or ingredients in foods cannot legally declare that it can cure, prevent or treat a disease. Always consult with your pediatrician before giving a child probiotics. See Chapter 18 in my book for more information.