Ask any allergy-suffering adult how much allergies suck and you’ll likely get an earful. Sneezing, watery eyes, sinus headaches, itchy eyes…it’s enough to make life miserable. When you combine this with asthma, curling up in the back of a dark cave seems greatly appealing.
Certainly anything you can do to protect this same scenario from playing out in your children would be welcome. Luckily, this is not purely up to chance and genetics.
It may be largely up to probiotics.
This is not going to be the first time I have touted the extreme benefits of a healthy bacterial flora on many aspects of health. Conversely, destruction of normal bacterial flora in a newborn, infant or toddler can wreak havoc to their immune system for decades to come, if not for the rest of his or her life. It is that critical.
This particular study looks at the use of Lactobacillus reuteri from pregnancy (in the moms) through one year (in the infants) on the development of IgE mediated allergy against ovalbumin (egg whites), birch tree and cat. Basically, the supplementation calmed down the immune response to all of these allergens for at least 2 years.
Don’t wait for your pediatrician to keep up with the medical literature and make these types of recommendations. In general, pediatricians are far more likely to vaccinate (contributes to allergies and asthma via a Th2 cytokine shift, in case you were wondering…) and give antibiotics for viral infections than they are to recommend probiotics. The closest I have heard is the recommendation to use a product like Florastor, which will absolutely NOT restore the normal bacterial flora in the gut after taking antibiotics.
If you have (or are expecting) a little one, the time to be proactive at protecting the delicate balance of his or her immune system is NOW. The use of medications later may never allow that balance to be regained. The only thing that may come close is the use of sublingual immunotherapy, but more on this in a future post.
Based on the mounting evidence, if your child’s pediatrician does not recommend or at least discuss probiotics with you, should you find a new one?