Knowledge on the role of gut microbiota in health and disease is developing rapidly, and the number of published scientific papers on the benefits of its modifications is increasing exponentially. The ability to manipulate the composition of our gut microbiota has been well known for decades, namely through the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. Discussions about how to use probiotics for various clinical indications have been advanced by many different guidelines, position papers and evidence-based recommendations. An independent panel of European experts convened by the European Paediatric Association has summarised the scientifically credited guidelines and recommendations on the use of probiotics in paediatric healthcare practice.
The panel found that specific probiotic strains were effective in preventing antibiotic-associated and nosocomial diarrhoea, treating acute gastroenteritis and treating infantile colic in breastfed infants.
The use of probiotics in children seems to be safe in general, even when provided in high doses.
However, special caution is indicated for premature infants, immunocompromised and critically ill patients and those with central venous catheters, cardiac valvular disease and short-gut syndrome.