Probiotics Provide Hope for Children with Allergies

Positive news on the use of probiotics by Maureen Williams, ND

A runny nose is all in a day for a child with allergies but new research has found that a simple supplement may help stop allergic sniffles. A study published recently in Indian Paediatrics found that allergic symptoms diminished in children with allergies who took a probiotic supplement containing a friendly intestinal bacterium called Lactobacillus salivarius.

Testing probiotics in allergic children

The study included 240 children, 6 to 12 years old, with allergies to mould or dust. The children all suffered from rhinitis, which presents as the familiar runny nose, itchy nose, and nasal congestion. Some children also had itchy, red, watery eyes, and some had mild asthma symptoms like cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

Participants were divided into two groups: one received a probiotic supplement with 2 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus salivarius once daily for 12 weeks, and the other group received placebo. Their symptoms and use of allergy medications were monitored weekly by parents and at regular check-in visits during the study.

Probiotics seem to reduce allergy symptoms

Symptoms and medication use were similar in the probiotic and placebo groups at the beginning of the study, but over the course of the trial, a few differences developed:

  • By week 8, rhinitis and eye symptoms were much lower in the probiotic group than in the placebo group.
  • This difference in symptoms was even more significant by week 12.
  • Probiotic-treated children were using fewer medications by the end of the study.

“We found a marked reduction of the allergy symptom scores during treatment with Lactobacillus salivarius,” said study coauthor Dr. Rong-Hwa Jan from the Institute of Medical Science at Tzu Chi University in Taiwan. “The dramatic improvement in symptoms along with the decreased use of medications suggest that Lactobacillus salivarius may be an important treatment tool for allergic rhinitis in children.”

How do intestinal bacteria help allergies?

Although no one knows for sure why probiotics have anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory effects, some laboratory studies suggest that the presence of healthy intestinal bacteria may increase levels of chemicals that are responsible for keeping the immune system in check. A properly controlled immune system is less likely to be triggered by particles in the environment like dust, pollen, and animal dander.

Keeping children allergy-free

Here are some ways to help reduce the risk of allergies and asthma in your children:

  • Nurse them for one year. Breast milk helps babies develop healthy intestinal bacteria and can reduce their risks of allergies and asthma later in life.
  • Avoid antibiotics as much as possible. Antibiotics can disrupt colonies of normal bacteria that populate the intestines. Studies have found that antibiotic use early in life is linked to a higher risk of allergies and asthma as children grow.
  • Expose them to animals. Even if you can’t have pets because of your own allergies, having your children spend time around animals on a regular basis can help prevent dander allergies.
  • Consider probiotics. Based on this study, probiotic supplements could be a good idea for children with allergies. In addition, cultured foods like unpasteurised sauerkraut, fermented pickles, and cultured dairy like yoghurt and kefir provide strains of similar lactic acid–producing bacteria that might help keep the immune system in check.

(Indian Pediatr 2012;pii: S097475591100603-1)

Maureen Williams, ND, completed her doctorate in naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle and has been in private practice since 1995. With an abiding commitment to access to care, she has worked in free clinics in the US and Canada, and in rural clinics in Guatemala and Honduras where she has studied traditional herbal medicine. She currently lives and practices in Victoria, BC, and lectures and writes extensively for both professional and community audiences on topics including family nutrition, menopause, anxiety and depression, heart disease, cancer, and easing stress. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Are Your Children Getting the Vitamins They Need?

Some children’s vitamins may be more useful than others according to Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Before you serve up the gummy vitamins, chew on this: some children may not be getting the nutrients they need most from their multivitamins, some may be getting too much of certain nutrients, and others may not need a multivitamin at all.

Do they really need a children’s vitamin?

Eating a healthy diet goes a long way towards preventing nutritional deficiencies, but how much do we really know about which nutrients children are getting enough of in their everyday diets and which ones we need to supplement?

That’s the question that researchers from institutions including Tufts University and the National Institutes of Health attempted to answer in a study published in the Journal of Paediatrics.

The study looked at the diets and supplement use of 7,250 children between 2 and 18 years old to see if taking supplements helped fill in nutritional gaps, or if it led to excess intake of certain nutrients in children who already had good diets.

Following are the percentages of children who took dietary supplements:

  • 23% of 2- to 8-year-olds
  • 23% of 9- to 13-year-olds
  • 26% of 14- to 18-year-olds

Here’s what the study showed:

  • Where diet worked: Most of the younger children got plenty of phosphorus, copper, selenium, folate, and vitamins B6 and B12 from diet alone.
  • Where supplements helped: Dietary supplements helped fill in nutritional gaps (especially of magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, and E) among older children. The prevalence of inadequate intake of all of the nutrients examined (except iron and phosphorus) was significantly lower among children who took supplements. There was a significantly higher prevalence of inadequate calcium and vitamins A, C, D, and E intake across all age groups among children who didn’t take supplements. Most of the children between 2- and 8-years-old who didn’t take supplements didn’t meet the recommended intake for calcium and vitamins D and E.
  • Where supplements didn’t help: Even among children who did take supplements, more than one third didn’t get enough calcium or vitamin D. Children who took supplements were more likely to have intakes above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of iron, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins A and C. Younger children were also more likely to have intakes above the UL for copper and selenium.

Still wondering what to do?

The take-home message from this study is that younger children may be getting enough of most nutrients from diet alone, but may benefit from boosting intake of certain nutrients, like calcium and vitamins D and E. Older children might benefit from taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement, and making sure that they get enough calcium and vitamin D. “These findings may have implications for reformulating dietary supplements for children,” the authors commented.

(J Pediatr 2012;doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.05.009)

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation’s premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counselling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Chewy free-from snack bars for kids

It has to be admitted that gluten free food wasn’t always as good as it is today, so I’ve got a lot of respect for Nature’s Path who have always used great tasting organic grains and seeds for their cereals since the mid 80s.

Now they’ve adapted their cereal know-how to make some lovely little nibbles for children.

Nature's Path Crispy Rice Bites
Tasty snacks for coeliac children

Parents still feel frustrated about the lack of choice available for their coeliac children.

So Nature’s Path are introducing tasty treats in three kid-friendly flavours: Chocco Nobbly, Peanut Butter Bumps and Berry Bobbly, all chewy moist crispy rice bars for your child’s lunchbox or an after school treat, and still reassuringly organic and free from artificial flavourings.

Advice for protecting children from toxins in your house

It’s simple really. ‘Get out the hoover and mop the floor – regularly.’

But a research group are concerned that simple house dust can affect the development of children’s brains, because of the toxic substances which it exposes infants to.

Canadian professor, Bruce Lanphear, published a dust study which shows that lead, mercury and tobacco particles in the home can affect babies and toddlers even in small amounts.

According to Professor Lanphear, ‘An infant will absorb about 50 per cent of ingested lead, whereas an adult absorbs about 10 per cent… This, combined with children’s frequent hand-to-mouth behaviour, places children at much greater risk.’

Has the toxic time-bomb finally exploded?
The effects are worrying: learning and behavioural disorders, asthma, cancer and birth defects. Lanphear actually connects exposure to lead with criminal activity, but toxins can also have an impact on a child’s education, violent tendencies and general contribution to society.

So what can a parent do?
■ Dust your house twice a week.
Use a damp cloth and wet mop as this collects dust better. Put away toys and leave shoes at the door as these can contribute to a dirty environment.

■ Use non-toxic cleaning.
Bleach isn’t needed for most cleaning and air fresheners should be avoided. In fact, fragrance-free detergents and non-toxic dry cleaning laundrettes are recommended. You can find lots of ‘green’ cleaning agents at GoodnessDirect.

■ Seal off rooms when decorating.
This is especially important in older homes where lead is more prevalent. Ventilate decorated rooms well and use heaters. Aim to buy less toxic chemical products for your DIY.

■ Pack away the plastic.
Generall avoid cooking with plastic, especially in the microwave, even if the bowl says “microwave safe”. Plastic toys and other items which are made of plastic and that children might bite are generally advised against.

■ Go for sustainably fished fish
This is because of the mercury found in certain types of fish and shellfish, particularly tuna. However, sustainably fished tuna and mackerel, herring, rainbow trout and salmon carry less mercury generally.

Guaranteed fun with organic Kiddies Pizza (by What On Earth)

What better way to introduce organic food to kids than with organic pizza? And what a way to discover healthy eating!

Now, personally, I think children know quality food when they taste it. So do expect these pizzas to be gobbled up in no time. They’re made by the marvelous and ever-popular What On Earthorganic food kitchen and they come in packs of 6 in a useful recyclable box.

Kid's organic pizza - got to be fun
Kid's organic pizza - got to be fun

There’s no preservatives, just fresh tasting organic ingredients and clever names… Try Fun-Guy for a vegetarian cheese and mushroom, or Maggie & Rita for cheese and tomato, the Oinker is a special organic ham and cheese recipe.

And, if you really want to have fun with your kids and organic food then you can pick up What On Earth’s pizza bases and passata and help them make their own!There’s plenty more special organic ingredients at GoodnessDirect.

Remember, research is showing organic food contains higher levels of vitamins minerals and antioxidants, plus you’re not getting additives or pesticides, just peace of mind when it comes to looking after our earth.

Toiletry range friendly to your kids, and the earth

It makes sense that by caring for the earth we should be caring for the ones we love most.

Simple ideas like that can revolutionise your life.

When you buy something to keep a baby clean it must never be dangerous to a child. And it’s logical that what we use for our children should never be a threat to the environment either.

That’s why, as much as possible, Earth Friendly Baby’s creams and wipes come from natural sources. Ingredients harvested from plants are chosen because they work in harmony with your body, and the earth. Artificial colouring or synthetic fragrances don’t get a look in.

A child’s bubble bath should be fun for everyone, including your peace of mind.

A baby cream should soothe and calm and bring inspiration to your conscience.

A child friendly handwash should keep germs at bay and help kids think about the world around them.

That’s the way a sensible life works.

Earth Friendly Baby and Kids products are made to help your family get the very best out of life – at a price everyone can afford.

Ella’s Kitchen – Organic food for kids

Ella’s chefs have done it again. Ella’s Kitchen have created some of the healthiest kid’s food around – and the coolest.

Ella's Kitchen organic food for kid's
Ella's Kitchen organic food for kid's

I’ve been looking forward to their organic Pack O Snacks for a while and now they’re here: all the goodness of snacky fruit with totally natural ingredients for the little ones to enjoy; enticingly named The Chompy One, The Chewy One and The Crumbly One. There’s no added sugar, no extra salt and no e numbers.

Ella’s dad, Paul Lindley, says he promised to make the wholesomest food for his children to eat. He makes sure that everything in the food, its taste, colour and texture, will appeal to his children’s senses.

But there’s more, because Ella’s now got Bakey Bakies Oat-Bakes, new Baby Cookies and Stack O Sticks Breadsticks too – all made from good organic natural ingredients, with nothing else added.

Lick your lips at the thought of apple, raisin and cinnamon or cream cheese and spinach oat-cakes, say yummmm to apple and ginger or milk and vanilla cookies, or just enjoy a munch of the orange and pear or wholegrain breadsticks.

Watch this space for even more fab food from the coolest kid’s kitchen around…