Probiotics lower infection, and melatonin improves sleep in those with epilepsy

In children, probiotics curbed infections in the first years of life and in the hospital, and melatonin improved sleep in epileptic kids, in several new studies.

In a probiotics study, 925 pregnant mothers carrying children prone to allergies took probiotics or a placebo four weeks before delivery. Their newborns got the same probiotics or placebo daily for six months after birth. During the first six months, there were no significant differences between the groups of children. Over two years of follow up, compared to placebo, kids who had taken probiotics were 7 percent less likely to have a respiratory infection and 5 percent less likely to have a middle-ear infection, and overall had fewer total infections.

In an infection study, doctors said that children admitted to the hospital, particularly the very young, often catch an unrelated infection. In this study, 742 hospitalized children, aged 1 to 18, took 1 billion colony-forming units of Lactobacillus GG or a placebo per day during their stay. Overall compared to placebo, the probiotics group was about 66 percent less likely to develop a gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract infection in the hospital.

In a sleep study, doctors measured sleep quality and melatonin levels in 23 children with hard-to-treat epilepsy and 14 with controlled epilepsy. All the children took melatonin at bedtime. After three months, those with hard-to-treat epilepsy were much less likely to resist going to bed, fell asleep quicker, slept longer, woke up less during the night, had less sleep apnea, night walking, bed wetting, and teeth grinding, and were less sleepy during the day. Doctors also noted that the severity of seizures was significantly less. 

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