It isn’t the most pleasant subject to discuss, but it’s so common, it costs $400 million a year to treat. Diarrhea. When the sufferer is a child, it’s even more serious … sometimes even deadly. So far, doctors have been unable to prevent the most common kind of diarrhea — but now, researchers are finding some clues in the dairy case.
Three-year-old Anthony is in the hospital for something most people don’t consider a serious problem.
Pediatric Gastroenterologist: “He’s in the hospital because he had severe episode of diarrhea with dehydration and some loss of salts in his body.”
Anthony is suffering from the effects of rotavirus, the most common cause of diarrhea. Usually, the symptoms are not as severe as Anthony’s.
Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist: “The most common symptoms of rotavirus would be fever, vomiting, diarrheal disease and really other systemic symptoms — some of the children have a cough and some respiratory symptoms and ear infections along with it at the same time.”
It’s easily transmitted among children. So far, doctors haven’t been able to prevent the diarrhea it causes. Researchers have been studying the effects of bifido-bacteria, often called bifidus.
It’s typically added to yogurt and other fermented milk products. It’s also available in other forms where it can be ingested.
The researchers found that bifidus and similar kinds of bacteria can prevent diarrhea. In their study, 31 percent of infants fed regular bottles of formula developed diarrhea. Of the infants given formula fortified with bacteria, only 7-percent developed it.
The researchers believe that infant formulas and drinks fortified with beneficial bacteria could be a safe, inexpensive way to help kids like Anthony.
If we could feed him something that would prevent him from getting acute episodes, that would certainly prevent his multiple hospitalizations. He wouldn’t be here today.
Until some kind of fortified drink is available, what’s the best way to prevent diarrhea in infants? Doctors say breast milk is a good start. Later on, they suggest giving your child yogurt. Although it’s unclear which yogurt bacteria are best at preventing diarrhea, any kind of yogurt with active cultures is nutritious and easily digested.