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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Leading pediatricians are learning that "good" bacteria, or probiotics, can have an effect on different gastrointestinal disorders, including diarrhea and bacterial infections and help the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract of pediatric patients.
A symposium, Probiotics and Intestinal Health in Children, led by Harvard Medical School, Division of Nutrition was the first program to highlight probiotics as cutting-edge science in children's health and well-being.
Dr. Allan Walker, professor of nutrition and pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, led a world-class panel of speakers comprised of esteemed researchers in the fields of pediatrics and pediatric gastroenterology, including Athos Bousvaros, MD, MPH (Boston Children's Hospital), Jonathan Markowitz, MD (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia), Cornelius Van Niel, MD (University of Washington, School of Medicine), and Balfour Sartor, MD (University of North Carolina School of Medicine).
The science supporting probiotics use shows that the addition of certain types of bacteria to our diets can have beneficial effects on microbial activities in the body. There are more than 400 types of bacteria found in the gastrointestinal tract, most of which are not harmful. In fact, under normal circumstances, the "good" bacteria far outnumber the "bad." Any shift in the balance of the two types, however, may affect how well the gastrointestinal tract functions.
Probiotics are used worldwide and their health benefits have been noted for some time. "The concept of adding 'good' bacteria into the diet to promote healthy digestive and immune systems is gaining recognition in the Unites States. Clinical research is quickly accumulating to support the anecdotal evidence of the benefits of probiotic therapy," said Walker. As investigations continue, the potential functions of these microorganisms may extend far beyond what was originally conceptualized.
The program was made possible by an unrestricted educational grant provided by The Dannon Company, Inc. and Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd. A Webcast of the symposium will be made available in the upcoming weeks. To view the symposium, visit the Harvard Medical School, Division of Nutrition Website at http://www.hms.harvard.edu/nutrition.
Source: The Dannon Company, Inc.; Yakult Honsha Co., Ltd.