Division of Nutrition

The American Academy of Pediatrics Symposium

Probiotics and Intestinal Health in Children

October 9, 2005
Washington DC

Probiotics have been used worldwide and the health benefits associated with them have been noted for some time. The concept of adding “good” bacteria in the diet to promote a healthy digestive and immune system has yet to take off in the United States. However, clinical research is quickly accumulating to support the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of probiotic therapy. This program provides an in-depth knowledge of the use of probiotics with the pediatric patient through presentations of cutting-edge science from leading researchers.

There is a long history of probiotics being used in various cultures for health promotion and therapeutic purposes. During the past decade a quickly growing body of evidence suggests that these “good” bacteria can be used in the diet as medicinal therapy and have beneficial effects on mucosal barrier dysfunctions, including diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergy. Even though the majority of published data involve the use of probiotics to treat and prevent gastrointestinal (GI) infections, the potential functions of these microorganisms may extend far beyond what was originally conceptualized. While probiotics have been used in newborns and infants to restore and maintain the integrity of the GI system, the medical community continues to investigate the long-term effects of such interventions on infant gut microflora. Upon completion of this course, attendees will have acquired critical background information and practical knowledge on the state of the science of probiotics and an understanding of clinical applications for current treatment and preventive practices in pediatrics.

No Webcast recordings of this event are available.


Why Probiotics?

What is a probiotic and what role do they play in maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract?

The Joint FAO/WHO Working Group Report on Drafting Guidelines for the Evaluation of Probiotics in Food defines probiotics as “Live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.” Regular consumption of probiotics helps regulate the level of beneficial bacteria and reinforces the barrier that helps limit the passage of pathogenic bacteria.

Are all probiotics alike?

No, there are many strains of beneficial bacteria that have probiotic potential. However, science has identified certain types of cultures that are deemed most beneficial on having a positive effect on the intestine, including L. casei, L. acidophilus, L. plantarum and B. bifidum.

What is the difference between probiotics and antibiotics?

A Probiotics are “friendly” bacteria that can help the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract and can have a health benefit on the host. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, antibiotics, also known as antimicrobial drugs, are drugs that fight infections caused by serious bacteria. They do not protect against viral infections like the common cold, most sore throats, and the flu.

How are probiotics being used in children?

Doctors have used probiotics safely on newborns and infants in many medical situations. This includes the treatment of diarrhea as a result of gastrointestinal viral and bacterial infections. Probiotics can also be used effectively in the prevention of antibiotic induced diarrhea in children.


About the Faculty

The world-class panel of speakers is comprised of highly esteemed, leading researchers in the field of pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology who have closely examined the beneficial role that probiotics play in gut immunity in the pediatric patient.

Dr. Allan Walker is the Conrad Taff Professor of Nutrition and Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. He is also Professor of Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the Director of the Division of Nutrition (DON) at Harvard Medical School and the Principal Investigator of a NIH-supported Clinical Nutrition Research Center within the Harvard community. His research program examines the basic mechanisms for protective nutrient function and then through translational research attempts to apply these observations to clinical trials and eventually to recommendations for clinical care.

Dr. Athos Bousvaros is the Associate Director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Program, Director of the Inpatient GI Service, and an Attending in Pediatric Gastroenterology at Boston Children’s Hospital. In addition, he is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Bousvaros focuses his research on improving diagnosis and treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome in children. He is the author or coauthor of numerous original articles, reviews, chapters, and editorials.

Dr. Jonathan Markowitz is an Attending Gastroenterologist and Director of Inpatient Gastroenterology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Additionally, Dr. Markowitz is an Assistant Professor and Course Director in Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. His research is discussed in an extensive list of publications examining Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and the use of complementary and alternative medicine among pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Dr. Balfour Sartor is the Director of the Multidisciplinary Center for IBD Research and Therapy and the Co- Director for the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Sartor’s research closely examines the mechanisms of probiotics in treating and preventing various conditions of the GI tract. He has authored a total of over 230 peer-reviewed articles, almost 200 published abstracts, as well as edited four books.

Dr. Cornelius Van Niel is a primary care pediatrician at Sea Mar Community Health Centers in Seattle. He teaches pediatric and family practice residents and is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Dr. Van Niel is interested in complementary and integrative practices in pediatrics, and his research includes investigating the use of probiotics to treat acute, infectious diarrhea in children.


Presented by
Harvard Medical School
Division of Nutrition
Department of Continuing Education
This program was made possible by an unrestricted educational grant
provided by
The Dannon Company, Inc.
Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.