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Advances in Pediatrics

Probiotics and Prebiotics: Role in Clinical Disease States

      ABSTRACT

      Parents of pediatric patients are seeking alternatives to conventional therapy in the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal disease states because of therapeutic failures caused by the increased incidence of antibiotic resistance. One such alternative is the use of probiotics and prebiotics to stimulate health-promoting indigenous flora to affect pathogen colonization and expression of disease. Probiotics are live flora given in oral quantities that allow for colonization of the colon. Probiotics are given as functional foods or dietary supplements, and function to activate the mucosal immune system and prevent pathogen colonization and translocation by strengthening the mucosal barrier, interfering with pathogen colonization, and in some instances, producing secretory antibacterial substances. Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates, principally oligosaccharides, that are fermented by colonic commensals, stimulating their proliferation and producing short-chain fatty acids. Both protective nutrients have been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of infantile diarrhea, particularly rotaviral gastroenteritis, prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea, and prevent and treat intestinal food allergy. With additional multicenter clinical trial confirmations, these substances may become routine in the care of infants and young children.
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