How Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber Benefits Your Child—At Every Stage of Life

By:  Gabriele Amersbach* 

Happy BabyWhile you are thrilled with your new baby, your joy may quickly turn to worry if your infant is suffering from gassy cries, painful constipation, an uncomfortable extended belly, and other signs of gastrointestinal distress.

With your doctor’s support, an easy solution may be the addition of oligofructose-enriched inulin (or Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber) to your baby’s formula, especially if you are not breastfeeding or have delivered with a C-section.

As your child grows, you can be comforted that by supplementing with Prebiotin, you have started him or her on a healthy path to a balanced microbiome (the collection of bacteria living in the gut) that can bring lifelong health benefits including:

  • An improved immune system
  • Improved bowel regularity and decreased constipation
  • Increased calcium absorption for strong bones
  • Better appetite control and less obesity
  • Improvements in heart and brain health

Safe for Infants and Children

Studies have shown that Prebiotin is both safe and beneficial for infants and children. Our prebiotic fiber contains only two ingredients, inulin and oligofructose, both natural food ingredients derived from chicory root. This kind of prebiotic fiber occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, including chicory root, which humans have consumed for thousands of years.

Prebiotics and Breastfeeding

Research studies show that the microbiota of babies who are breastfed is dominated by beneficial bifidobacteria. A vaginal birth is another “plus” for a healthy microbiome, since infants born vaginally are exposed to beneficial bacteria in the birth canal; fluid enters your baby’s nose and mouth to colonize the digestive system. More vaginal bacteria colonizes your baby’s skin and stays with your baby.

If babies have been exposed to beneficial bacteria like Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium from mom, especially through extended breastfeeding, they have softer, looser stools and tend to stay healthier as they grow. Formula-fed infants often have less frequent and more firm stools and related digestive concerns, which can cause distress, pain, and frequent crying. 

The Importance of Breastfeeding

Baby NursingBreastfeeding offers numerous benefits for your baby, among them, helping your baby to build a stable and balanced microbiota (or balance of bacteria in the gut).

Your child’s systemic immunity begins soon after birth and is strongly influenced by the multitude of bacteria that colonize the gut in your baby’s first days and weeks.

Breast milk serves as a prebiotic. It contains human milk oligosaccharides or HMOs that cannot be digested in the small intestine. HMOs are the third most abundant ingredient in breast milk after fat and carbohydrates.

The HMOs travel intact to the colon, where they stimulate the growth and activity of healthy bacteria, called bifidobacteria, that support the immune system. Since the gut is where about 70% of the immune system exists, a baby with a healthy amount of bifidobacteria has a great start on good health for life!

Breastfeeding has such a powerful effect on your baby’s immune system, that it is has been associated with a protective role, not only in infancy, but throughout life. Breastfed newborns are at lower risk for:

  • Developing infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Allergies
  • Atopic diseases (eczema, asthma, and rhino conjunctivitis)

Studies show that adults who have a history of being breastfed continue to have better bowel and metabolic health.

Breast milk is the best and easiest way to make sure your child receives the best possible nutrition so that the most beneficial bacterial colonies thrive.

Don’t worry if you can’t breastfeed or had a C-section…

Prebiotin can help your baby

If you are not able to breastfeed or have had a C-section, you can still make sure your child has the right balance of bacteria in the microbiome. Numerous research studies indicate that children who receive chicory root-based inulin and oligofructose (the ingredients in Prebiotin) as a supplement show improvements in the growth of good bacteria colonies in the gut, with no difference in normal development and growth.

In fact, a 2013 study at a neonatal clinic in Spain concluded that infants who were fed a prebiotics-enriched formula developed a gastrointestinal bacterial makeup similar to their breastfed counterparts.

Crowding out the “bad” bacteria

Hugging Youngsters
Photo by Chayene Rafaela on Unsplash

As a complete or “full-spectrum” prebiotic fiber that nurtures the whole colon, Prebiotin is designed to build a healthy balance of bacteria in the colon. The prebiotic fiber nurtures the “good” bacteria that crowd out “bad” bacteria that can lead to digestive concerns and illness.

As a result, infants and children benefit from improved regularity, softer stools, increased stool frequency throughout the day, and fewer digestive upsets.                            

Prebiotin Dose for an Infant

We always recommend consulting with your pediatrician or health care provider concerning dietary adjustments, like adding supplements. For daily maintenance, Prebiotin can be introduced in small amounts to infant formula and or baby food. Amounts used in general are 1/8 to 1/4 of a gram. These amounts are generally increased slowly as the child gets older. Daily amounts should not exceed 1 gram unless recommended by a physician (1 gram = ¼ teaspoon).

The impact of animals on your child’s microbiome.
As children grow, they also receive bacteria from relatives and friends through physical contact, like kisses, or through sharing food. Less well known is that animals in the environment, including pets and insects, can have a major impact on the microbiome, according to a 2017 NYT article.

Child with Duck

The article notes a recent research study that found Amish children in Indiana who grew up close to barnyard animals had far lower rates of asthma than children raised apart from animals.

Co-author of the study, Jack Gilbert, the director of the Microbiome Center at the University of Chicago, explains: “The Amish suffer from fewer immune-related illnesses than the rest of us because they grow up with their livestock and the bacteria they host, as our human predecessors did for thousands of years.”

Even the pets we bring into our homes change the bacterial composition of our microbiomes. One study found dog ownership raised the levels of 56 different classes of bacterial species in the indoor environment (cats, naturally more fastidious, only brought in 24 additional categories). Preliminary research shows that these bacteria may impact the neurotransmitters that affect mood and other mental functions. Specifically, animal companionship may lift our moods!

A powerful effect on your child’s immune system

Some parents notice their children get fewer colds and other school transmitted illnesses when they supplement with Prebiotin.  What’s going on?

We now know that our gut bacteria play a fundamental role regulating the immune system. With the right balance of bacteria, we are protected from pathogens and illness. However, with a poor diet, overuse of antibiotics, and changes in agricultural methods that kill the soil, the microbiota (or microorganisms in the gut) are no longer resilient or diverse enough to stimulate an effective immune response. The results? Children—and adults—have more inflammatory and autoimmune illnesses like juvenile arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis, to name just a few.

Yet, there is hope—and a simple solution. Researchers continue to add to the growing body of evidence that a chicory root fiber supplement (like Prebiotin) nourishes beneficial bifidobacteria colonies, supports healthy, regular bowel movements—and offers hope—and solutions. In an August 2018 article in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that children ages 3-6 who received a chicory root prebiotic fiber supplement had not only the expected rise in bifidobacteria and healthy and regular bowel movements; they also had fewer episodes of sinusitis and fevers than the control group.

In other words, the prebiotic strengthened the immune systems, resulting in fewer days at home for both children—and their parents.

Managing your child’s constipation

Researchers chose this age group because childhood constipation is among the most common gastrointestinal complaints in children, especially when children move into new stages of development or new environments (like school).

Typically, constipation in children occurs:

  1. After starting formula or processed foods during infancy
  2. During toilet training in the toddler years
  3. Soon after starting kindergarten

Common childhood problems include infrequent bowel movements, pain on defecation, the passing of large, hard stools, and fecal incontinence. The prevalence of functional constipation is estimated to be 3 percent worldwide, with approximately 40 percent of children developing symptoms of constipation during the first year of life.

Emergency visits for constipation are on the increase; between 2006 and 2011, constipation-related visits to emergency rooms across the U.S. rose 41.5 percent, led by infants and children.

How can I help my child avoid constipation?

Child in Shopping Cart

Low fiber intake is among the factors associated with constipation in childhood. A start is to encourage your child to eat a diet rich in fiber—including fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat bread.

It is also important to encourage your child to drink plain water or milk.  Avoid sodas that are loaded with sugar. According to the Cleveland Clinic, on average, a 12-oz serving of soda contains 36 grams (or about four teaspoons) of sugar and about 160 calories.

Even fruit drinks with claims of vitamin C are sugar water.

If you are buying 100 percent fruit juice, limit your child to no more than 4-6 ounces each day to maintain a healthy weight. Even “natural” sugar can add a lot of calories quickly, say the experts at the Cleveland Clinic. 

Despite the parents’ best efforts, children will often reject healthier choices or choose sweet snacks or processed foods when parents are not around.

If this is your child (and you’re not alone!), Prebiotin can fill the gap. To make sure your child is consuming the right amount of fiber for regularity and general good health, a healthy diet that includes Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber may be your answer.

Weight control with prebiotic fiber

Researchers have demonstrated that a diet that includes a prebiotic fiber like Prebiotin can reduce the impact of another common childhood concern, obesity.

Since the 1980s, childhood obesity rates have tripled. According to the CDC, 18.5% children (or 13.7 million) are now obese, and one-third of all children overweight. Children who are overweight and obese are at greater risk  for diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber has been used in numerous research studies with adults as well as children and infants. Research results indicate that regular supplementation with an oligofructose-enriched inulin prebiotic fiber like Prebiotin helps children control their appetites, feel fuller, and prevent weight gain.

A simple change

In a 2017 recent study with 42 children, ages 7-12, researchers at the University of Calgary, Alberta Canada, gave participants either 8 grams of oligofructose-enriched inulin or a placebo once daily for 16 weeks. The children were obese or overweight otherwise healthy.

Children at Play
Photo by Wayne Lee-Sing on Unsplash

“Powdered fiber, mixed in a water bottle, taken once a day is all we asked the children to change, and we got, what we consider, some pretty exciting results—it has been fantastic.” Raylene A. Reimer, PhD, RD, professor and study leader, Faculty of Kinesiology at University of Calgary, in Science Daily.

Based on the 16 weeks, the annual projected body weight increase in the prebiotic group would be 6.6 pounds—in the healthy range, while the projected increase in the placebo group was 17.6 pounds, triple the expected yearly weight increase.

The study showed that the prebiotic improved the mix of intestinal microbiota, helped children maintain a healthy weight, and reduced the percent of body fat—not bad for a single change—powdered fiber mixed in a simple water bottle.

Help for Your Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD

If you have a child with autism, you may already face the heartbreaking symptoms of impaired communication, poor social engagement, and repetitive behaviors. It is even more challenging that many children with this devastating illness also face a variety of gastrointestinal concerns, from stomach pain and frequent cramping, to diarrhea, and constipation. As a result, many children are not able or willing to eat a regular, healthy diet and face sleep deprivation that can further hinder growth, mood, and weight.

Researchers have found that there is a profound difference in the gut microbiome of children with autism, compared to other children who also have similar GI symptoms. For example, some children with autism have abnormally high levels of Sutterella, common with appendicitis and Crohn’s disease, and Clostridium bacterium, that causes such devastation with C. diff.

The Dangers of Common Herbicides

In a 2018 article Medical Sciences, the researchers hypothesize that high levels of Clostridium bacterium result because people are exposed to glyphosate herbicides (like RoundUp): “Pesticides and agrotoxics are also included among this long list of ASD-related environmental stressors. Of note, ingestion of glyphosate (GLY), a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, can reduce beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota without exerting any effects on the Clostridium population, which is highly resistant to this herbicide.”

Since chicory-based prebiotics like Prebiotin have shown to improve the bacterial balance, where beneficial bacteria crowd out toxic bacteria like Clostridium bacterium, it may be beneficial for your child’s diet to include Prebiotin in his or her daily diet.

In a 2018 study on the impact of dietary interventions, particularly prebiotics with autistic children, researchers found not only lower scores of abdominal pain and improved bowel movement; they also noted a decrease in anti-social behavior. These findings support the numerous studies that link gut microbiota and brain function.

In a recent study with mice in a 2016 issue of Cell, researchers noted that a missing species of gut bacteria caused social deficits in mice similar to those with autism in humans. By replacing this species in the mouse gut, some of these social deficits were reversed. Costa-Mattioli, one of the authors explains: “This is where the science is unexpectedly leading us. We could potentially see this type of approach developing quite quickly not only for the treatment of ASD but also for other neurodevelopmental disorders.”

 Children and antibiotics

Numerous studies have shown that use of antibiotics can change the balance of the microbiome, reducing not only undesirable bacteria, but also eliminating beneficial microbes that reduce disease risk. Supplementing with a prebiotic like Prebiotin can blunt the negative impact of frequent antibiotic use, especially in childhood.

In one study examining the impact of antibiotic treatment, researchers found that prebiotics in a milk formula increase fecal bifidobacteria early after antibiotic treatment, without inducing gastrointestinal symptoms. A 2018 study with nearly 300 children who received 6 grams of chicory-root based prebiotic fiber daily also showed higher counts of beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) in stools and fewer fevers requiring medical attention.

Child Playing in the Leaves

Building a strong foundation for lifelong better health

From infants to teenagers, children of all ages can benefit from supplementing with chicory root-based natural Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber.

  • Infants, especially those who are bottle-fed, benefit from building a healthy microbiome that can improve lifelong immunity and can decrease disease risk even into adulthood.
  • Young children benefit as they face new stressors and environmental changes that can result in constipation and digestive upsets.
  • As children become teenagers, they too benefit from supplementing with a prebiotic fiber that can offset the impact of junk food, poor sleep, alcohol, and other lifestyle choices that can weaken the microbiome and lead to weight gain and a pattern of obesity.

Make Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber the go-to solution for your infant with colic, your fourth grader with a chronic stomach ache due to stress, or your teenager who is obsessed with staying Facebook slim. Children of all ages—and their parents—benefit from a prebiotic fiber that gives the desirable bacteria in your body the nutrition necessary to flourish and fight disease for lifelong better health!

 *   Gabriele Amersbach is a science writer with over 25 years of experience writing on health and science topics.  As writer/editor for Prebiotin, she supports website and marketing efforts for Prebiotin. 

A Sample of Scientific Research

Order Prebiotin® Prebiotic Fiber here.

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