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Should I Give My Child Probiotics For a Stomach Bug?

  • Category: Kids' Tips
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General
Should I Give My Child Probiotics For a Stomach Bug?

There is no shortage of outdated advice and old wives’ tales surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, and these tall tales can also extend to children’s health. (think “if you go outside with wet hair, you’ll get a cold” or “if you cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way”)

While those examples seem silly, there are more relatable pieces of advice parents may have heard, or even taken in the past. For example, it was common practice for years to suggest giving children probiotics during or after a stomach bug, in part because of studies that pushed the idea that they could help with symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.

Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that helps keep your body healthy. But after an infection, there’s an influx of bad bacteria, which gets the system out of whack. It’s easy to see how probiotics might be helpful for a stomach bug – officially known as acute gastroenteritis -- but are you wasting your time (and money)?

A study from the New England Journal of Medicine clears things up: giving probiotic supplements to young kids during a case of acute gastroenteritis has no effect on their outcome, including the duration and severity of symptoms. There is no harm in using them, but it’s not necessary.

Acute gastroenteritis can cause complications like dehydration and is the second leading cause of death worldwide in children under 5 years old. There is no simple fix, and it’s something you have to just ride out. So skip the probiotics and keep these tips in mind to get you and your little one through those rough days:

  • Give small but frequent fluids
  • Make sure the rest of the family is frequently washing hands – it’s highly contagious.
  • Disinfect at every turn! Especially bathrooms.
  • Let them rest
  • Call your doctor if the child can’t keep fluids down for several hours, has a high fever, or has signs of dehydration (crying with few or no tears, dry mouth or cracked lips, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, acting very sleepy or less alert)