Breast milk is the best source of food for an infant. Not only does it contain the necessary nutrients for the development of the baby, but through breast milk, infants acquire probiotics.
The sterile milk presumably picks up the friendly bacteria during its passage through the nipple and into the infant. One of the probiotic strains that babies acquire via breastfeeding is Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis.
Studies have shown that babies who are born via caesarian section and premature babies are slower to acquire friendly bacteria compared to those who are born naturally and at full-term.
Breastfed infants also develop a probiotic-rich gut compared to formula-fed individuals. This makes them less susceptible to infectious diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal problems.
One of the symptoms of gastrointestinal problems is infantile colic. It is one of the most common problems within the first 3 months of life, affecting as many as 1/3 of newborns.
Emerging science on probiotics has shown that specific probiotic strains offer an effective solution for infantile colic, infection in children and pathogenic diarrhoea.
In a study published in Pediatrics 2007 by Savino and co-workers, Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis showed very promising results in the treatment of infantile colic. According to a study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, results confirmed that L.reuteri colonised the human stomach, duodenum and ileum.
Dietary supplementation with this beneficial probiotic strain induced a significant increase in immune cells which could translate to better health protection and fewer illness episodes.
This is further confirmed by a study conducted by Weizman and co-workers who demonstrated that infants fed a formula supplemented with Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis or Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12 had fewer and shorter episodes of diarrhoea as compared to the control group.
There is now substantial evidence that supplementation with probiotics reduce Helicobacter pylori colonisation in the gastric mucosa. The probiotic strain L.reuteri Protectis possesses the ability to interfere with H. pylori adhesion to epithelial cells.
A clinical study by Dr Francavilla in 2008 has shown that Lactobacillus reuteri Protectis effectively inhibits H.pylori growth and suppresses H.pylori infection, thus reducing dyspeptic symptoms.
L.reuteri given during and after H.pylori eradication therapy also markedly reduces the frequency and intensity of antibiotic-associated side effects.
A good dose of 100 million cfu daily for 4 weeks is advised. However, it is important to note that the inhibitory effect of H.pylori is observed specifically in the L.reuteri protectis strain. This probiotic could easily be obtained, either in drops or tablet form, from pharmacies and hospitals.
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