Food for thought
The pros and cons of pro- and prebiotics in baby food
Saturday, September 01, 2007
Every parent wants their baby to be healthy and eat the healthiest foods available. But what do you do when it comes to products that contain "new" additives?
Companies have begun releasing baby food products that contain prebiotics, an ingredient that encourages the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Beech-Nut’s Good Evening baby food line contains the prebiotic inulin, which is usually obtained from chicory root.
"If you feed babies inulin, first you do get a difference in the bacteria in the baby’s bowel and stool, a softer consistency, and that’s related to the fact that it’s a form of soluble fiber," says Dr. Richard Theuer, an infant nutritionist and consultant to Beech-Nut.
Other new baby products, such as Udo’s Choice Infant Blend, contain probiotics, a living bacteria said to have similar benefits, particularly for infectious diarrhea.
"It may lessen the duration and it might have some protective benefit in terms of holding off infectious diarrhea," says Dr. Mark Fishbein, an associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and on staff at Children’s Memorial Hospital and Central DuPage Hospital.
Products containing probiotics they need to be refrigerated because they are a live culture. Although this additive is generally very safe, Fishbein recommends parents look carefully at the label to make sure it has the proper amount of the material and actually includes what parents expect to see included.
"They should know it’s not an FDA regulated item," he says.
Fishbein also notes that babies can get probiotics naturally through breastmilk.