Probiotics for infants and children, and deformational plagiocephaly: an update

1 Feb 2014

Recent years have seen the rise of probiotic supplementation in our food and the promotion of probiotics as dietary supplements. Probiotics are generally advertised as an aid to gut health and are specifically touted as being of assistance for conditions as varied as diarrhoea, infant colic and allergy. However, the evidence on probiotic effectiveness for a range of infant conditions is mixed.

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed the use of probiotics and prebiotics as part of an effort to help physicians in their work with parents and families (Thomas, 2010; Armstrong, 2011). The Academy noted the increasing prevalence of probiotic and prebiotic supplements in foods for children and in infant formula.

Introducing these sorts of supplements into children’s diets is intended to aid the bacterial colonisation of the infant gut that occurs naturally after birth. Human gut microbiota are thought to play a role in the later life development of conditions such as asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis, as well as autoimmune conditions such as Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis (Armstrong, 2011). 


Deformational plagiocephaly is the leading cause of head shape abnormalities in infants (Lee, 2010). This common condition is also known as positional plagiocephaly, and more simply as a misshapen head. In rare instances, and if left untreated, plagiocephaly can lead to asymmetrical growth of the child’s face and head.

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