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Probiotics Play Critical Role in Pediatric Health and Immunity
Date:11/2/2007

Symposium at National Pediatric Conference Explores Probiotics, Immunity

and Long-Term Health

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Probiotics have become such a trend in consumer food products that their scientific evidence and clinical benefits may often be overlooked. But probiotics, or "good bacteria," deserve attention from pediatric clinicians, said presenters at a satellite symposium during the 2007 meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in San Francisco. Renowned experts in pediatrics, nutrition, and gastroenterology addressed how intestinal microflora influence a child's developing immune system, as well as how disruptions to this normal microbial balance impact infectious, inflammatory and allergic diseases in children.

The symposium, Probiotics in Pediatrics: Modulating Gut Immunity and Enhancing Long-Term Health, explored how greater understanding of the intestinal microflora and its role in the development of the infant immune system has led to increased interest from pediatricians.

W. Allan Walker, M.D., a Conrad Taff professor of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School in Boston, discussed the roles of intestinal microflora and the initial colonization of bacteria as they relate to immunity. According to the hygiene hypothesis, cleanliness and lack of exposure to various microorganisms can have a direct effect on our immune systems. Public health measures such as pasteurization and sterilization of foods, increased use of antibiotics, and the rising number of cesarean sections have led to a decreased exposure to microorganisms. In infants, this can cause an increased disease burden as the mucosal immune system fails to develop properly. The timing of appropriate colonization correlates with development of host defenses and prevention of diseases.

Inadequate colonization can be overcome by the use of probiotics as "surrogate" colonizers. Martin G. Martin, M.D., a professor of Pediatri
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SOURCE Nestle Nutrition
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