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Breastfed Babies With Colic Need Probiotics Too

There’s little doubt, colic is one of the most frustrating and upsetting problems Moms face with their newborns.

Although colic is a short-term problem that typically goes away by month 4 of an infant’s life, this knowledge provides little comfort to new Moms trying and failing to calm down their tearful babies after hours of non-stop crying.

Several health factors – food allergies, acid reflux, milk intolerance and gas – may contribute to colic, but no one really knows what triggers this alarming condition.

Over the years, probiotics have slowly emerged as a safe, cost-effective way to treat colic in previous reports we’ve cited here.

There’s even more evidence of such benefits for breastfed babies in a recent international study featured in Pediatrics that has attracted lots of attention.

A study of data collected from four double-blind trials conducted on three continents and 345 babies concluded that a proprietary strain of Lactobacillus reuteri reduced colic-induced crying after three weeks for children who are exclusively breastfed.

Breastfed babies treated with a probiotic were twice as likely to experience a 50 percent reduction in colic symptoms by day 21, says Dr. Valerie Sung, lead author of the study and Honorary Fellow at the University of Melbourne.

That’s a great step toward treating colic, but only for breastfed babies. Unfortunately, formula-fed infants weren’t included in this study, and there’s plenty of health-related reasons why some new Moms should breastfeed their babies.

Medical resources like the Cleveland Clinic and WebMD offer a variety of methods for treating colic ranging from the sensible (calming your baby) to the unproven and possibly unsafe (using herbal remedies).

Here are some safe, simple steps you can take to relieve your baby’s colic:

  • Cutting back on certain foods if you’re breastfeeding.
  • Introducing a pacifier.
  • Diverting your baby’s attention by playing soft music or rocking him/her.
  • Decreasing your baby’s exposure to outside stimulation.

Giving your baby a probiotic with four strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the good guys in his/her gut like EndoMune Junior could make a difference in your infant’s colicky symptoms and help you get a good night’s sleep too.

If you’re a new Mom and your baby’s colicky crying persists even after these simple and safe treatments, we urge you to schedule an appointment with your pediatrician for guidance.

Breastfeeding feeds your baby’s gut

One of the most important things Moms can do for the health of their newborn babies is to breastfeed them for as long as possible. Breast milk provides an ideal mix of fats, protein and vitamins, nearly all the nutrition your newborn baby needs from the get-go (with the possible exception of vitamin D).

New Moms should breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least six months, and in combination with solid food until age 1 at minimum, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Not only does breastfeeding provides babies the basic nutrition they need, it works to “seed” their developing gut microbiomes with the bacteria, giving them a natural boost to their immune systems that can protect them from disease.

A gut health boost

How much does breastfeeding really help your baby’s gut health? A recent JAMA Pediatrics study led by UCLA researchers tracked the health of 107 Moms and their babies, collecting samples of breast milk, stool samples from infants and skin swabs around the nipple for an entire year to find out.

Scientists learned that breast milk accounts for nearly 30 percent of the beneficial bacteria in a baby’s gut and an extra 10 percent from skin contact with a Mom’s breast.

Plus, the gut microbiomes of babies who were mostly breastfed were a little more diverse compared to infants who were breastfed less.

“We’re appreciating more and more how these bacterial communities, particularly in the intestine, help guard against the bad guys,” says Dr. Grace Aldrovandi, a professor of pediatrics and chief of infectious diseases at UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital, according to a press release.

“We know from animal model systems that if you get good bacteria in your gut early in life, you’re more likely to be healthy.”

What if you can’t breastfeed?

Despite the many benefits breastfeeding provides Moms and their babies, some health conditions require specific prescription drugs — not to forget chemotherapy for cancer treatments — that prevent women from doing it.

Plus, your baby may need an antibiotic to fight common infections, although you’ll want to guard against exposing their growing bodies too often to them.

Moms can still give their babies a gut healthy boost whether they can breastfeed or not with the help of multi-strain probiotics made just for them like EndoMune Junior.

Each dose of EndoMune Junior contains four strains of beneficial bacteria plus a prebiotic that can be easily sprinkled onto foods or added to liquids to protect and enhance their developing gut health.

The importance of breastfeeding your baby

There’s no denying newborn babies get a very healthy start in lives when their Moms delivered them naturally and breastfed them for as long as possible. This one-two punch inoculates their tiny gut microbiomes with the bacteria that helps their bodies thrive and fight off diseases naturally.

As we’ve discussed previously, even the best laid plans of parents and their pediatricians change, making a caesarean (C-section) delivery a tough choice but a necessity for some, nonetheless.

Still, Moms have an important say in their young baby’s gut health by choosing to breastfeed, as shown by a pair of recent studies.

C-sections vs. breastfeeding

A Swedish study tracking the development of the infant microbiome by comparing fecal samples from 98 infants reached some of the same problematic conclusions about C-section births as have previous researchers.

For the record, the microbiomes of young babies born vaginally more closely resembled their Moms than those delivered via C-section, according to the study appearing in Cell Host & Microbe.

Although C-section babies receive less microbial help due to their delivery, they still receive some of Mom’s bacteria through direct contact with their skin and mouth.

However, Swedish researchers also found that infant nutrition — making a decision to breastfeed — also drives the development of young microbiomes as they shift to adapt to their new environments.

The big surprise to researchers: How the end of breastfeeding was the key factor in a baby’s shift to an adult-like microbiome, rather than the introduction of solid foods, says lead study author Fredrik Bäckhed of The University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, important bacteria young growing babies need, dominated the gut composition of babies who were breastfed at 12 months.

Conversely, the gut microbiomes of babies who were no longer being breastfed were dominated by the Clostridia species prevalent in adults.

How many species of bacteria are found in breast milk?

If Moms needed any more reasons to breastfeed their young babies, Spanish researchers gave them an important one in a 2012 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

DNA sequencing of colostrum (the first liquid secreted by the mammary glands after a woman gives birth) identified more than 700 species of bacteria, far more than expected.

But there are some interesting caveats that may affect the diversity of bacteria a new Mom produces. For one, overweight Moms or women who gained more weight than expected during their pregnancies produced less diverse breast milk.

The kind of delivery also affects the microbial diversity, but not how you might assume, according to the study. As expected, women who delivered their babies naturally had richer breast milk compared to new Moms who had planned a C-section.

However, women who experienced an unplanned C-section delivered breast milk whose composition was bacterially very similar to mothers who gave birth vaginally.

Differences in diversity could be explained by the state of a new Mom’s hormones and physical stress at the time of birth. “The lack of signals of physiological stress, as well as hormonal signals specific to labor, could influence the microbial composition and diversity of breast milk,” according to researchers in a press release.

These results seem to mirror findings in a more recent report about a Mom’s stress levels triggering changes in the ways her baby’s gut health and brain develops.

The good news: Moms can provide their babies a gut healthy boost by giving them a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune Junior, which contains beneficial strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, plus a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in their guts.

A healthy gut protects your newborn’s brain

When discussing the gut and the brain, typically the conversation turns to the gut-brain axis, the connection that ties your brain and emotions to your intestines.

A recent study on mice conducted by researchers in Sweden, Singapore and the U.S. has discovered another connection between the gut and brain, but this one guards the brain from damaging chemicals in the blood, even before birth.

This relationship is related to the blood-brain barrier, a semi-permeable “network” of blood vessels that separates the brain from the body’s circulatory system and protects the central nervous system from toxins, blood-borne infections and other harmful substances while maintaining stability and regulating the movement of essential molecules.

Scientists found this link by comparing the development of the blood-brain barriers of two sets of mice. One group of germ-free mice was raised in a sterile environment away from bacterial contact, while the other group was exposed to typical bacteria in a “normal” environment.

Normal vs. Sterile Environments

The results of this study aren’t surprising if you recall our recent posts about the quest for too much cleanliness via the hygiene hypothesis, causing so many health problems.

The differences between both sets of mice started before birth. The gut health of mothers raised in a normal environment protected the brains of mice before they were born by blocking labeled antibodies from circulating into brain tissues. Conversely, those same-labeled chemicals “leaked” into the brains of pups from germ-free mothers.

Also, the leakiness of the blood-brain barrier among germ-free mice continued as they aged from babies to adulthood. While the exact process is still being identified, researchers determined tight junction proteins (important to the permeability of the blood-brain barrier) changed structurally and acted differently in the absence of bacteria.

“These findings further underscore the importance of the maternal microbes during early life and that our bacteria are an integrated component of our body physiology,” says Prof. Sven Pettersson, the principal investigator at the Department of Microbiology, Tumor and Cell Biology at the Karolinska Institute in a press release.

“Given that the microbiome composition and diversity change over time, it is tempting to speculate that the blood-brain barrier integrity also may fluctuate depending on the microbiome. This knowledge may be used to develop new ways for opening the blood-brain barrier to increase the efficacy of the brain cancer drugs and for the design of treatment regimes that strengthens the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.”

Protecting C-Section Babies

In the human world, babies delivered via a caesarean (C-section) have serious health problems like those young germ-free mice from the beginning of their young lives due to a lack of diversity in their gut microbiomes.

This gut health challenge puts babies at a higher risk for many health problems down the road, ranging from allergies and obesity to diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

A safe, simple, non-drug solution that protects and enhances the diversity of your baby’s gut health and lessens prolonged crying and discomfort due to colic and other digestive problems: Give them a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids).

Moms: Are you limiting your baby’s exposure to antibiotics?

When taken too often, antibiotics are harmful to gut health. Medical evidence proving such damaging effects has grown significantly over the past year.

The main hazards linked to taking too many rounds of antibiotics have centered on a growing vulnerability to Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections and obesity in adults.

Unfortunately, the harm antibiotics do to human health may start much earlier, during the early stages of childhood development—even before your baby is born—and may last for a lifetime, according to a pair of recent studies.

Reprogramming your baby’s gut health with antibiotics

Researchers at NYU’s Langone Medical Center studied the effect low doses of penicillin given over a lifetime would have on the health of mice in a study published in the medical journal Cell.

The big picture conclusion: Starting in the last week of pregnancy or during nursing, mice given low doses of penicillin were more vulnerable to metabolic abnormalities including obesity than animals exposed to antibiotics later in their lives.

In the main experiment, researchers compared the effect of penicillin on three groups of rodents: Two groups received penicillin—one before birth and the other later after weaning—then for the remainder of their short lives, while a third control group was given no antibiotics at all.

Both groups of mice that were fed penicillin had higher amounts of fat on their little bodies than the control group, but the womb group was the fattest, providing solid proof that mice were “more metabolically vulnerable if they get antibiotics earlier in life,” says Dr. Laura Cox, lead author of the study.

Not only did penicillin-treated mice carry twice as much fat compared those fed only high-fat food, but their bodies also showed signs of metabolic disorders.

Do antibiotics lessen the amount of gut bacteria? Not necessarily…

Scientists took another important step by transferring gut bacteria from penicillin-treated mice and those not given the antibiotic to antibiotic- and germ-free mice shortly after the time they would be weaned (three weeks old).

Mice given gut bacteria from donors treated with antibiotics were fatter than those treated with antibiotic-free gut bacteria.

Another interesting discovery made by NYC researchers during their study may have overturned a long-standing belief that antibiotics (at least penicillin) reduces the amount of gut bacteria contained in the body.

As a whole, gut bacteria didn’t decrease, but four very important strains did: Allobaculum, Candidatus, Arthromitus, member of the Rikenellaceae family and the very popular Lactobacillus (one of the key bacteria ingredients in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic).

These results reaffirm the work conducted by one of the most popular researchers in the field of gut health research, Dr. Martin Blaser, director of the NYU Human Microbiome Program and author of the book, Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues.

More evidence broad-spectrum antibiotics may trigger obesity

A more recent study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics gets to the heart of the problem: Health problems occur when exposing babies under age 2 and up to age 5 to broad-spectrum antibiotics.

Using electronic records spanning 2001-13 from a network of primary health clinics, scientists tracked the health of more than 64,000 children from birth to age 5. The numbers speak volumes:

  • Nearly 70 percent of all children were exposed to antibiotics more than twice on average before they reached age 2.
  • Young children who were exposed to all antibiotics or broad-spectrum antibiotics four or more times had a greater risk of obesity.
  • The prevalence of obesity or being overweight increased over time from 23 percent at age 2 to 33 percent at age 4.

One additional factoid from the study that’s worth noting: No link was found between obesity and prescribing children narrow-spectrum antibiotics, medicines that treat a more select group of bacterial types, according to the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics (APUA).

However, broad-spectrum antibiotics can handle a greater number of bacterial types and are often prescribed to treat a wider variety of infectious diseases or when the source of the infection is unknown, according to APUA. Varieties of broad-spectrum antibiotics include some synthetic penicillins, quinolones and aminoglycosides.

Because infants are so very vulnerable to antibiotics, especially soon after they’re born, it’s important for moms to work with their family pediatricians to ensure their babies get the healthy start they need to avoid metabolic problems that could lead to lifelong ailments like obesity.

The good news: A multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior can give your baby’s health a much-needed boost by protecting the diversity of beneficial bacteria in their gut and strengthening their tiny but growing immune systems.

woman working out on beach

How probiotics are helping babies born via C-Section

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.

How probiotics are helping babies born via C-SectionFor 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).

Treat colic safely, inexpensively with probiotics

Watching your young infant struggle with colic after feeding is among the most upsetting experiences you’ll face during the early months of his or her life. Fortunately, the prolonged crying and discomfort your baby experiences due to colic or other digestive ailments will be brief, particularly if you follow our recent list of 10 ways to calm your baby naturally and safely.

One of the easiest and safest ways to treat colic, and help your baby develop good gut health that boosts immunity, is taking a multi-species probiotic containing 5 to 10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day.

A recent Italian study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, concluded giving healthy babies a daily dose of probiotics shortly after they’re born may lessen episodes of prolonged crying as well as the development of common gastrointestinal problems, including acid reflux and constipation.

Italian researchers assigned some 550 infants born at full term to receive either daily drops of a probiotic mixed with oil or a placebo (an oil mixture) for three months. Parents of those infants also kept diaries detailing any problems (inconsolable crying, bowel movements and vomiting) along with the number of visits made to their pediatrician.

The babies who received probiotics were obvious to spot by the end of the 90-day study.

  • The time babies treated with probiotics experienced prolonged crying was 38 minutes, or almost half the time (71 minutes) of the placebo group.
  • The probiotic group had more bowel movements (4.2) compared to those receiving a placebo (3.6).
  • The placebo group experienced more daily problems with regurgitations (4.6) than the probiotic group (2.9).

Interestingly, Italian scientists were also able to quantify the monetary benefits of giving babies a probiotic. Families saved $119 for each child given a probiotic.

“Driving a change of colonization during the first weeks of life through giving lactobacilli may promote an improvement in intestinal permeability,” according to the Italian researchers. “Visceral sensitivity and mast cell density and probiotic administration may represent a new strategy for preventing these conditions, at least in predisposed children.”

These results mirror similar findings in a 2007 study that concluded babies treated with a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior cried about two-thirds less than those given the gas-reducing drug simethicone.

Probiotics for Pediatric Antibotic-Associated Diarrhea

Welcome to February, readers!

February – the season for love, chocolate and valentines – is also, unfortunately, the season for colds and flu. Your littlest valentines will be especially susceptible to the bad weather bugs during the February freezes. The seasonal sniffles may not only impact your child’s sinuses and energy, but also their bathroom habits and regularity. This month’s newsletter will discuss how the use of probiotics can prevent your child from getting diarrhea when they are prescibed an antibiotic to cure a respiratory infection.

The Curious Case Of The Two Kiddie Colds

While your child may require an antibiotic to quickly and completely cure their cold or infection, prescribed medications often carry unintended negative consequences. Most of the antibiotics pediatricians prescribe to children can cause diarrhea – specifically AAD or Antibiotic Associated Diarrhea.

Consider these two cases:

    1. Peter, a 4-year old preschooler, caught a cold from his classmates. He developed a cough, sore throat and 102º fever. His mom gave him an over the counter children’s cold remedy, but over the next 2 days young Peter developed a productive cough. Worried and upset, Peter’s mother took him to his pediatrician who prescribed an antibiotic to treat his bronchitis. Peter began to get better but was then stricken by a terrible case of diarrhea that left him weak and dehydrated. His mother rushed him to the ER where he was diagnosed with antibiotic associated diarrhea. Peter was hospitalized, received an IV’s and eventually became well enough to return home.

 

  1. Brian, an 8-month old, contracted a fever while at his daycare center and became fussy. His mother took him to the ER where he was diagnosed with an ear infection. The doctor prescribed an antibiotic and recommended a second medicine – a probiotic to be taken two hours after the first medication. Brian’s infection healed, and he never developed diarrhea.

A Serious Side Effect of Antibiotics

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in our intestines and play an important role in intestinal digestion and immunity. Generally, 85-90% of the bacteria are beneficial and keep bad bacteria at bay. However, while antibiotics effectively resolve the bacterial infections like Peter and Brian experienced, the antibiotics also risk causing diarrhea by destroying the good bacteria and upsetting the healthy balance of the bacterial flora. Studies have found that up to 50% of children who receive antibiotics for ear infections will develop AAD1.

A Proof Is In The Probiotics

The November 2011 issue of the Cochrane Database System Review revealed new evidence supporting using probiotics to prevent pediatric antibiotic-associated diarrhea2.

Sixteen studies tested 3,432 children from 2-weeks old to 17-years. The children received a variety of probiotics co-administered with antibiotics for the prevention of AAD.

Final analysis revealed that AAD was reduced by 50% in the group receiving probiotics versus the group receiving a placebo. Even more, the greater the probiotic colony count, the lesser the incidence of AAD – 63% less in fact.

The study’s authors also noted that the probiotic group experienced no significant, unusual side effects due to the probiotics, other than a reduction of AAD.

Take Home Message

If your child requires an antibiotic to recover from a late winter cold, consider administering a probiotic like EndoMune Jr., which contains a 10 billion colony count in each serving. Administer this probiotic two hours after administering the antibiotic to protect the bacteria cultures and effectively protect your child from AAD.

Eat healthy, exercise, take EndoMune and live well!
Best Wishes,
Dr. Hoberman

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