Written by Sarah Veitch - Wild About Fermenting (wildaboutfermenting.com)
It has always been assumed that while in the womb, the baby is in a sterile environment and has their first contact with bacteria once born. This is now being questioned as more research has discovered that maternal gut bacterica may be able to translocate to the baby via the bloodstream. Jiménez et al. 2008; Metamoros et al. 2013; Prince et al. 2014; Rautava et al. 2013; Zimmer 2013 are all studies which suggest this. The mothers own gut health during pregnancy is of vital consideration and of paramount interest for a healthy baby. Mothers gut bacteria changes during the course of the pregnancy so it is important to start a pregnancy with a good bacteria and maintain it. Several studies have suggested that a mothers gut microbiome- and lack of good bacteria- could be the cause of premature births.
It has been discovered that babies born via C-Section have a mircobiome that is similiar to the operating room. This has a profound impact on their health. (Azad, et al. 2013; Penders et al. 2006; Prince et al. 2014). The predominate forms of bacteria found on and in c-section born babies are Staphylocci and C difficile. These babies also have significantly lower levels of the important bacteria Bifidobacterium and lower bacterial diversity. Studies suggest that this can impact on long term health and susceptibility to disease.
Hi I'm Sarah from Wild About Fermenting. I teach people how to ferment foods, public speak about the human microbiome and fermented foods, and sell fermented foods in FNQ. I am passionate about peoples microbiome - I love that the world is finally waking up to what Hippocrates has been telling us for a couple of thousand years! "All disease begins in the gut". This paper looks at the effects probiotics have on infants and what a pregnant mamas and family can do to support optimum health for the baby.
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
or check out my Facebook page: facebook.com/wildaboutfermenting
Come and say "Hi" at Rustys or Tanks and various other markets around FNQ or come do a workshop! My webpage is under construction :)
When babies are born vaginally they are coated all over the skin and the inside of the mouth with their mothers maternal vaginal and faecal bacteria. When born via C-section these babies miss out on this coating. Some hospitals are now swabbing the mothers vaginia before the birth and using this to coat the baby once born in an attempt to mimic this important 'seeding' process.
There have been studies which found that there are important and unique bacteria specific to an infant such as bifidobacterium infantis which is crucial to the establishment of a healthy gut. This bacteria is ONLY found via a vaginal birth or an infant specfic probiotic powder. (NOTE not all powders have this)
Breastfeeding babies also gain important bacteria from their mother which formula fed babies miss out on. These are past on via the milk and skin to skin touch. A study by Penders et al. (2006) concluded that babies born at home and exclusively breastfed have the widest range of beneficial bacteria.
Everyones microbiome is unique to them but similarities are found within families and even pets. The infants exposure to bacteria is crucial between ages 0-3. What they are exposed to and digest has a profound impact on their lifelong microbiome and gut/digestive system.
A microbiome can be described as the bacteria living on and in a human. We are in fact more bacteria than DNA - bacteria outweighs DNA by 10 to 1.
Factors which impact negatively on the infants microbiome:
- drugs/medications/antibiotics during pregnancy and birth
- mothers health during pregnancy
- mothers diet during pregnancy
Some physical implications these factors have on the infant:
- compromised immune system
- digestive issues
- childhood asthma
- links to obesity (this obviously has other significant factors involved)
Factors that can HELP eliminate and/or REDUCE the above:
- breastfeeding beyond 6 months/1 year
- mothers own health/diet/gut health
- fermented foods
- probiotic powder
There have been many cases of success that have either eliminated or greatly reduced the symptoms of the above.
I personally have helped numerous infants overcome problems directly related to reflux, digestive issues and immunity issues. The mothers have noticed significant differences with the babies.
In conclusion, in todays modern world, the chances of preparing for and providing the infant a top quality microbiome and therefore healthy gut/digestive system is slim. Almost all births are in a hospital and medicated and an increasing number are C-Sections. Mothers need to be educated and informed about the effect that this has on the childs health and make plans and implement them pre and post pregnancy.
No birth choice is wrong - the point is education - and encouragment of probiotics or fermented foods - for both the mother during pregnancy and post and the infant.
If you cannot find an infant specific probiotic powder (preferably one that contains Bifidibacterium Infantis) then my suggestion would be to give the infant a quality probiotic powder via a pinch either on the tounge or on the nipples of the mother when breastfeeding. They really dont need much. If the mother is not breastfeeding than the powder can be added to the bottle for easy administration.
It is also my opinion that the mother (IF breastfeeding) should be taking either fermented foods or probiotic powder AS WELL so the baby will also receive additional probiotics (esp if the diet is lacking).
It is also my opinion that EVERY baby who has been exposed to the above factors (as outlined in "factors which impact negatively on infants microbiome") needs to be given probiotic powder to allow the microbiome and gut health to replenish itself and help repair the damage. This is essential to the immediate health of the infant plus ongoing health right into adulthood. There are numerous studies which strongly indicate that a good, healthy gut is central to overall health. If the infant is showing no signs of any issues then a short dose frequently would go a long way. If the infant is displaying issues then a longer timeframe should be looked at.
I am happy to provide some guidance on probiotics/fermented foods should it be required - not only specific to infants.
I am also happy to provide my opinion on a good quality infant specific probiotic powder should it be required. (please not this is just my opinion and i am not affliated in any way!)
Thanks for your time - i hope that this was helpful.
With much love and kale chips,
Wild About Fermenting