AIM: Probiotics have been shown to prevent or treat a number of paediatric health problems; however, not much is known about how probiotics are used in the community. This study aimed to describe the prevalence and main predictors of probiotic supplementation among healthy pre-school-aged children.
METHODS: Parents of 4- or 5-year-olds residing in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) were invited to complete a web-based questionnaire between February and May 2020. There were 469 responses concerning 494 children eligible for analysis. Prevalence was categorised as lifetime exposure and recent exposure. Predictors were determined through multiple logistic regression modelling.
RESULTS: Almost half (47.4%) of the children had ever been exposed to probiotics and 14.9% had taken probiotics in the previous month. The strongest predictors of lifetime probiotic exposure were parental lifetime probiotic use (OR 13.3; 95% CI 7.4-24.1) and an interaction between functional food consumption and parental lifetime probiotic use (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.6-12.1). The strongest predictor of recent probiotic exposure was parental recent probiotic use (OR 13.3; 95% CI 5.7-30.8).
CONCLUSIONS: This study illustrates the high prevalence of probiotic exposure among healthy pre-school-aged children in the ACT and emphasises the relationship between parental use of probiotics and exposure in children. These findings will allow comparison and analysis of trends over time. Practitioners should be aware of the evidence for and against probiotics as these findings suggest a high level of acceptability among parents.