The children’s nutrition market in the U.S. is heating up with Nestle’s introduction of the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri into their new pediatric formula, Boost Kid Essentials. Actually the probiotic isn’t in the formula but in the straw that’s poked into the drink container. With the first sip your child gets 100 million reuteri organisms. Genius. The straw isn’t new, however. It’s been in use for years in Europe – a patented product of Biogaia AB of Sweden. I posted on it a year and a half ago and wondered who in the States would be smart enough to pick up on it. Now we know.
Nestle appears to have the insight to recognize the critical importance of intestinal microflora in children’s health. More importantly, they’re pioneering products that allow reliable delivery of study-proven probiotic bugs to the intestinal tract of our youngest patients.
So how important are bugs to kids? Perhaps the better question to ask is, “How important is reuteri to kids?” And why would a product like Boost Kid Essentials offer an advantage to kids who need caloric supplementation? Here are some of the proven benefits of reuteri in kids (Your mileage, of course, may vary):
Fewer sick days. In a recent study, 181 adult factory employees were assigned to receive a daily supplement containing either reuteri or a placebo. The employees were followed over 80 days and the group taking the reuteri was found to have a 55% reduction in illness when compared with the placebo group. While this study didn't look at kids, we may be able to extrapolate the effect to children.
Less diarrhea. A 2005 study compared children in daycare centers supplemented with reuteri against those without. The children supplemented with reuteri experienced fewer and shorter episodes of diarrhea. The duration of rotavirus diarrhea in hospitalized babies has been shown to be diminished in the presence of reuteri.
Inhibits the growth of numerous nasty organisms. L. reuteri releases a natural inhibitor of bad organisms called reuterin. And in the test tube this has been shown to prevent the growth of salmonella, shigella, strep, E. coli and the ulcer bug, H. pylori among others.
And that’s not all. Reuteri is one of the only probiotic organisms found to colonize nearly the entire length of the intestinal tract, not just the colon. It’s also been identified in breast milk. And while we would never use a product like Boost Kid Essentials in a baby, it is reuteri that was found last year to have such dramatic effects at minimizing misery in screaming babies (“colic” if you’ll pardon the term). And subsequent studies in preemies have found dramatic effects on upper intestinal motility. Whew! Difficult to explain, perhaps, but nonetheless fascinating. But it just shows that our studies in probiotic use in children are raising as many questions as they answer.
As you can tell, I love reuteri.
Stay tuned. The pediatric probiotic market is just picking up and I wouldn’t be surprised if Nestle had a few more tricks up its sleeve.