a mother holding her bareskin baby

Protect Your Baby’s Health From Allergies Early

One of the best things an expecting mom can do to protect the health of her baby from all kinds of health problems, even before he or she is born, is to take a probiotic.

An extensive meta-analysis of studies by researchers at Imperial College London published recently in PLOS Medicine supports those benefits, showing how probiotics and fish oil may reduce problems in a baby’s early days with eczema and allergies.

Out of more than 400 studies that were examined, 28 trials determined moms who took a probiotic from the 36th week of their pregnancies, then for up to six months while breastfeeding, lowered by 22 percent their baby’s risks of eczema, a skin condition that causes the skin to be irritated or inflamed.

Overall, up to 20 percent of infants are affected eczema, which shows up as patches of red, dry or itchy skin.

Many of the probiotics identified by researchers in their meta-analysis contained Lactobacillus rhamnosus, one of 10 strains of beneficial bacteria found in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

A similar pre-birth benefit was discovered by moms who took fish oil daily. Starting from the 20th week of their pregnancies up to four months of breastfeeding, babies avoided common allergies to eggs by a nifty 30 percent.

Interestingly, a mom’s avoidance of foods like nuts, dairy and eggs during her pregnancy made no difference in her baby’s risks of experiencing allergies or eczema.

Your breastfeeding wakeup call

At this juncture, It’s good to remind moms that breastfeeding (along with natural delivery) does a great deal of good for the health of their newborns, as it gives them an extra gut health boost that helps their tiny bodies fight off diseases naturally.

While most experts recommend that moms breastfeed their newborns for as long as they’re able — the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 12 months — even the best choices can fall by the wayside due to unexpected health concerns, like a caesarean (C-section) delivery.

However, moms who can’t breastfeed as long as they planned or at all can do a lot to protect the health of their babies, just by giving them a probiotic made just for them, like EndoMune Jr. Powder recommended for children up to age 3.

Like its “big brother,” EndoMune Jr. Chewable, EndoMune Jr. Powder contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the growing and diverse group of critters in your baby’s gut.

a woman holding a baby

Help Protect Your C-section Baby

Nearly a third of all babies born in America are delivered via C-section (Cesarean), surgery that brings an infant into the world through incisions in a woman’s uterus and abdomen.

There are many reasons why your obstetrician may recommend a C-section, especially if your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen or your baby isn’t positioned head first in the birth canal (breech or transverse).

Yet, a fair number of women request C-sections merely for the sake of avoiding labor or convenience, and even some hospitals tend to encourage them.

As common as C-sections are, they do come with long-term health risks for your baby via problems with their tiny gut microbiome, according to a recent Canadian study appearing in JAMA Pediatrics.

Gut health a factor

This study from the University of Alberta (Canada) tracked the health of 935 pairs of Moms and their babies to determine if C-section deliveries made babies more prone to obesity, paying close attention to babies born to overweight Moms.

Compared to being born naturally by a Mom of a healthy weight, babies born to overweight women were three times more likely to be overweight at ages 1 and 3.

Those risks of early weight problems for babies exploded to a factor of five among overweight women delivering their babies via C-section.

While examining infant gut microbiomes, scientists found a major gut health disparity – larger amounts of Lachnospiraceae — in babies born by overweight women and those delivered via C-section.

“Given that infant overweight and obesity are a major public health problem, our results reinforce increasing concerns over rising Cesarean deliveries and affirm the role of the gut microbiota as a ‘super organ’ with diverse roles in health and disease,” says lead study author Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, according to a press release.

Probiotics and breast milk

If a Cesarean may be the best health choice for a new Mom, what can she do to protect her newborn from obesity? In a recent interview with the New York Times, Dr. Kozyrskyj mentions breastfeeding as an effective tool.

In fact, breastfeeding in tandem with a beneficial probiotic may do just the trick, according to research appearing in mSphere from the University of California, Davis.

Scientists tracked the health of 66 breastfed babies over several months. A little more than half of the infants were treated with a subspecies of Bifidobacterium longum (one of four strains of beneficial bacteria found in EndoMune Jr. Powder and EndoMune Jr. Chewable) for three weeks, while the remainder received no extra probiotic help.

Compared to the smaller group, larger amounts of the Bifidobacterium longum subspecies were found in fecal samples taken from babies treated with the probiotic. Plus, those beneficial concentrations remained intact for at least 30 days after the probiotic period ended (and were still thriving up to six months later).

The probiotic babies had lower amounts of potentially harmful pathogens and high levels of acetate and lactate, important, beneficial products produced by the fermentation of human breast milk sugars by the Bifidobacterium subspecies.

Even more revealing were the changes in the gut health of babies born via C-section versus vaginally. In the beginning, both groups of infants were colonized by different gut bacteria.

After both groups were given the same Bifidobacterium longum subspecies, the microbiomes of the C-section group began to resemble that of the naturally born infant group.

“The probiotic was able to eliminate the differences inherent to C-section delivery,” lead study author Dr. Mark Underwood told Popular Science.

So, what if Mom can’t breastfeed? Dr. Underwood suggests giving your baby a three-week course of this probiotic and a formula with added human milk oligosaccharides could help with colonization and may continue as long as he/she is on that formula.

Before you consider giving your newborn a probiotic, always consult with your pediatrician or doctor first just to be on the safe side.

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.

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).

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