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The first one thousand days of a baby’s life are the most important for overall development. This is also the most crucial time for gut microbiome development. Seventy-percent of a baby’s immune system is found in the gut. The gut microbiome influences immunological, endocrine, and neural development and plays a vital role in infant development.

Babies are born with no microbiome and an immature immune system. These two develop together and interact with each other. The first microbes to establish themselves in a baby’s gut, skin, and mouth teach the immune system what is good and what is harmful.

The bacteria in your baby’s stomach may be affected by many factors, such as delivery method, gestational age, and whether they are administered an antibiotic early in life. When babies are born vaginally, they are covered with bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. These are known as microbiomes and are micro-organisms that are vital to the baby’s well-being. Studies have shown it is the mother’s gut bacteria that show up in vaginally-delivered babies. When babies are born by C-section, they have been found to lack strains of gut bacteria that are found in healthy children and adults.

The type of food a baby receives is also a factor in their gut biome. Breastfeeding is a big driving factor in a healthy gut microbiome. Unique to each woman, breast milk usually contains beneficial bacteria, immune cells, and nutrients. Babies naturally introduce bacteria to their system through breast milk and later through the food they eat. When a baby is breast fed, the mother’s gut bacteria is transferred to the mammary glands and then to the baby through the breast milk. Breast milk informs the baby’s immune system about the environment and provides beneficial bacteria to the baby. The oligosaccharides in the breast milk fertilize the healthy bacteria and promote activity. These bacteria help the baby digest food, and they play a role in the development of their immune system. Breastfed babies have higher levels of beneficial gut bacteria and healthier growth patterns than babies who are not breastfed. Studies have shown that babies who are fed formula show the most adult-like diversity of microbes and are more likely to be overweight.

The way to achieve and maintain a healthy gut biome for an infant is with the use of a probiotic. A probiotic is a beneficial bacterial that balances the pathogenic, or bad, bacteria in our bodies. It improves gut health and creates a balanced system. For babies, the benefits are numerous.

First, it helps boost their immunity. Studies have shown that children who are supplemented with probiotics get fewer colds and respiratory tract infections and have a faster recovery if they do get sick. The beneficial bacteria in the gut create a barrier that prevents pathogens from entering the body. They also keep the immune system alert so it can respond quickly to invaders.

Second, it helps ease colic or reflux. An infant’s digestive system is delicate. If imbalanced, the microbiota can experience adverse effects. Colic, reflux, and constipation can result from poor gut health.

Third, it helps reduce the risk of asthma. Gut bacteria may also contribute to asthma development through lower airway bacterial colonization. Studies have shown that changing the microbiota could cause an immune response of the host, reducing sensitization and allergic inflammation. There is increasing evidence that probiotics can regulate immune responses in the respiratory system, so they are thought to have a place in the treatment regimen for asthma.

Giving your infant a probiotic has been shown to be beneficial. Studies done in 2011 and 2014 found healthy babies benefited from receiving a probiotic in the first three months of life. GI conditions, such as reflux and constipation, were avoided, colic symptoms were reduced, and overall crying time was reduced.

As with any therapy or supplement, please discuss options with your doctor to see if this is the best treatment for your baby.

 

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Scientific Reference:

https://www.optibacprobiotics.com/learning-lab/in-depth/childrens-health/baby-probiotics

https://www.biocare.co.uk/news/baby-probiotics.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/probiotics-and-digestive-health/baby-probiotics#potential-risks

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/infant-formula-change-gut-bacteria-contribute-childhood-obesity/story?id=55632397



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