So, you’re a mom with a newborn baby and you are doing all you can to keep the little one healthy and happy.
You’re swamped with so many important things like sleep, feeding times and reading up on everything to avoid allergies, jaundice and infection. It can add up to information overload, so any new knowledge — like the way mothers pass beneficial bacteria to babies during birth — can be overwhelming.
This last of a two-part series will help moms get up to speed on the value of protecting their babies’ gut health by giving them probiotics every day, particularly if you have had a caesarean (C-section) or other health issues during your pregnancies.
Protecting your baby’s immune health after a C-section
For moms, making the decision to deliver your newborn baby via C-section is a tough one. Often, that choice is already made for you due to biological obstacles that make a vaginal birth dangerous.
For some women, however, it doesn’t lessen the stigma of a C-section birth, even when it’s necessary. There’s no need to feel any way but good when you make the best delivery choices for your health and your baby’s health.
Unfortunately, C-section babies face a very real problem right after they’re born, based on a recent Swedish study that compared the health of 24 babies delivered vaginally and by C-section.
Scientists analyzed fecal samples from all two dozen babies taken a week after birth then five additional times, and took blood samples at 6, 12 and 24 months to check levels of immune system chemicals (Th1 and Th2) that may play a role in future allergy problems.
C-section babies had less gut diversity — a lower range of good gut bacteria — during the first two years of their lives (specifically the Bacteroides phylum that allows the immune system to respond to the right triggers) compared to babies born vaginally. Also, C-section babies had unbalanced levels of Th1 in their blood, making them more vulnerable to developing allergies.
(A 2010 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found infants who were born via C-section had a gut microbiome resembling the mother’s skin, less rich in bacteria.)
Swedish researchers discussed further investigations into treatments that would normalize the development of the microbiota of C-section babies, including fecal transplants and giving them a daily probiotic.
Preventing eczema with probiotics
The benefits of giving your babies probiotics don’t stop with providing them good gut health and naturally boosting their developing immune systems.
Atopic dermatitis, better known as eczema, is an uncomfortable skin rash many babies have that first appears on the cheeks and scalp, and may later spread to their chest, arms, legs and other parts of their little bodies.
Although science hasn’t found what triggers eczema, environmental irritants and allergens may initiate this scaly problem. Also, if you or your family members have suffered from allergies, asthma or eczema, your baby has a better chance of suffering from it, too.
A 2013 study published in Clinical & Experimental Allergy found giving moms probiotic supplements of a strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus (one of the 10 strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) during pregnancies, then afterward to the babies for two years reduced the incidence of eczema sharply.
New Zealand researchers compared the effects of different bacterial strains on Moms and their new babies until they reached age 6 to determine which one had the best probiotic punch.
Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements given to moms then their babies up to age 2 reduced the incidence of eczema in children by an amazing 44 percent until age 6.
Conventional medicine remains skeptical
Researchers found that giving probiotic drops to infants produced worse results than giving them a placebo. However, those results fly in the face of others, including a March study in JAMA Pediatrics, that quantified the benefits of giving babies probiotics as a savings of $119.
The appeal for new moms giving their babies probiotics certainly outstrips any conflicting issues. The amount of pages found on Google with the search term probiotics for baby is far bigger (6.9 million) than probiotics by itself (4.6 million).