Good nutrition, and the right nutritional supplements, can contribute to healthy children. This starts during pregnancy. It is well known that proper nutrition, and supplementation with nutrients such as folic acid and omega-3 oils, are of crucial importance. But there are other nutrients that are important as well, and recent research supports this. Here are a collection of recent studies dealing with healthy children, starting with pregnancy.
Probiotics Lead to Healthier Moms and Babies
When the amniotic sac ruptures--when the "water breaks"--prematurely; before 37 weeks, chances for poor pregnancy outcomes increase, including serious infection in the womb. In this study, 106 women hospitalized with amniotic sac rupture at 24 to 34 weeks gestation took standard antibiotics alone or with a probiotic vaginal suppository for 10 days.
Women taking the probiotic suppositories gave birth at an average of 35.49 weeks compared to 32.53 weeks for antibiotics alone, with an average increased time in the womb of 5.06 weeks vs. 2.48 weeks. Babies weighed 5.38 pounds for probiotics vs. 4.42 pounds for antibiotics alone.
Babies born to moms in the probiotic group were also less likely to be admitted to neonatal intensive care for oxygen or mechanical ventilation, and had shorter hospital stays. Doctors said probiotics may help prevent vaginal bacterial infection and improve pregnancy outcomes.
(Reference: Fetal Diagnosis and Therapy; 2017, 450995, Published Online)
Less Pregnancy Gingivitis–Reduced Chance of Preterm Birth
During pregnancy, hormonal changes increase blood flow to gum tissues, cause inflammation, suppress the immune response to oral bacteria, and allow plaque to form and develop into gingivitis. Untreated, gingivitis can cause periodontitis, an infection that raises chances for preterm birth.
In this study, 45 healthy women with pregnancy gingivitis at the start of the third trimester took a placebo or the probiotic L. reuteri in a lozenge that delivered five-hundred-million colony-forming units, twice per day until birth.
After the women delivered their babies, gingival symptoms and plaque build-up in the probiotic group were significantly lower compared to placebo. Doctors concluded L. reuteri reduces harmful oral microbes without harming teeth, and may be a valuable new tool to help control pregnancy gingivitis.
(Reference: Journal of Clinical Periodontology; 2016, 12606, Published Online)
Mothers’ Omega-3's Reduce Asthma in Children.
Childhood asthma in the United States is increasing and at historically high levels. Doctors believe one factor is low levels of omega-3s in the Western diets consumed by mothers during pregnancy. In this study, 663 women in the 24th week of pregnancy began taking 2,400 mg of omega-3 fish oil per day, or a placebo, through birth.
Doctors followed the children for five years and found kids born to moms in the omega-3 group were 31 percent less likely to have developed asthma compared to kids whose moms had taken the placebo. Kids of the omega-3 moms were also 28 percent less likely to develop persistent wheeze, and were less likely to have respiratory infections. Results were greatest for children of mothers who began the study with the lowest levels of EPA and DHA. They were 54 percent less likely to have developed asthma compared to kids of moms in the placebo group.
(Reference: New England Journal of Medicine; 2016, Vol. 375, No. 26, 2530-9)
Vitamin D for Children with IBS
In irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the intestine looks normal, but does not function normally. In this study, doctors reviewed 55 cases of IBS in children and young adults, age 6 to 21, and compared them to 116 healthy children and young adults.
Overall, 90 percent of those with IBS were deficient in vitamin D, which doctors defined as less than 75 nanomoles per liter of blood, or 30 nanograms per milliliter of blood. A majority of the healthy participants-75 percent-also were deficient in vitamin D. Anxiety, depression, and migraine headache often accompany IBS, and those with IBS and migraine had much lower vitamin D levels compared to healthy participants.
Discussing the findings, doctors said children with IBS and low levels of vitamin D are more likely to have decreased bone mass and recommend measuring and supplementing vitamin D levels in those with IBS.
Probiotics Reduce Strep Throat incidence in Children.
A variety of viruses and bacteria can cause sore throat (pharyngitis), making it one of the most common infections. In this study, 48 kids with a recent history of acute pharyngitis-strep throat-took the probiotic streptococcus salivarius K12 during a nine-month follow-up period.
Overall, episodes of strep throat decreased from 154 before the study to 16 episodes during the study, or 90 percent fewer episodes of strep throat. Doctors also compared the 48 children with recent strep throat to 76 kids who had relatively few recent incidents and found those taking the probiotic were 75 to 100 percent less likely to experience a range of ear, nose, and throat infections.
(Reference: PLOS ONE; 2017, Vol. 12, No. 3, e0172183)
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Oils Improved Reading by Children.
In this reading study, 122 children, ages 9 to 10, took a placebo or 558 mg EPA plus 174 mg DHA and 60 mg GLA per day. After three months, kids taking the omega-3/6 had better reading skills compared to placebo. Doctors saw the greatest benefit when kids had to read a nonsense work aloud, pronouncing it correctly; and to quickly read aloud a series of letters. Children with mild attention problems who took omega-3/6 showed the most improvement. The brain largely relies on omega-3s for nerve cell communication, doctors said.
(Reference: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry; 2017, Vol. 58, No. 1, 83-93)
The pharmacists and nutritionists at Willner Chemists will be happy to advise you about appropriate supplementation during pregnancy and during childhood.