C-section babies

baby on back laying on white sheet

Protect Your C-Section Baby’s Gut

For the longest time, new Moms delivering their babies via C-section was an atypical thing. It was mostly warranted in cases when the health of an infant, parent or both was at risk.

Over the past 20 years, however, C-section delivery rates have soared, nearly doubling to almost 30 million annually, amounting to 21 percent of all births worldwide.

After peaking a decade ago, C-section births in America are on the rise again at 32 percent. This procedure remains very high among older women (age 40 and over), according to the CDC.

Nevertheless, the decision to deliver your baby via C-section — even as common as they are — comes with risks as we’ve seen time and again, especially if obesity plays a factor.

C-section babies may also have altered gut microbiomes that could leave them more vulnerable to respiratory infections in their first year, according to the results of research presented at the recent European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

No antibiotics!

Scientists monitored the health of 46 babies delivered via C-Section and 74 babies delivered vaginally over their first year of life by collecting and analyzing fecal samples.

Interestingly, antibiotics weren’t given to new Moms after their deliveries until the umbilical cords were clamped, meaning these gut-altering drugs weren’t a factor in the health of their babies. (Researchers also collected and tested fecal samples from these new Moms two weeks after their deliveries too.)

No surprise, the differences in the composition of gut bacteria between babies delivered naturally versus C-section were very obvious, particularly shortly after birth.

  • The gut microbiota of C-section babies was less stable during their first year.
  • The development of the health-promoting Bifidobacterium species among C-section babies was delayed.
  • C-section babies had higher levels of potentially bad gut bacteria and more problems with respiratory infections.
  • Babies delivered vaginally had the extra advantage of measurable seeding from their Moms.

What to do if…

If you’re a soon-to-be Mom and a C-section is definitely in your future, what you can do to give your baby a gut-friendly start in his/her life?

For starters, you can do the right thing by breastfeeding your baby which gives your baby a good mix of natural proteins, vitamins and fats, plus antibodies that help their developing immune systems.

(Helping your baby’s gut develop naturally is one of the 18 benefits of breastfeeding!)

Unfortunately, what happens if you’re unable to breastfeed for as long as you wanted or health problems make it impossible?

New Moms may want to take the healthy step — with expert guidance from their doctor or pediatrician — to give their babies an infant probiotic.

EndoMune Jr. Advanced Probiotic Powder contains 10 billion CFUs and four key strains of beneficial bacteria plus FOS (a prebiotic that feeds the bugs in a baby’s developing gut) that be sprinkled on foods or added to their formulas.

As you travel on this new adventure to become a Mom — for the first time or the next time — being equipped with all of the information you need to make this excursion a safe and healthy one for you and your baby is critical.

Protecting your baby’s gut health is an important part of getting there.

baby looking up at a baloon

Give Your Baby a Gut-Healthy Start

As you know, infants receive many health benefits when their Moms are able to make some simple gut-smart health choices via breastfeeding and vaginal delivery.

But how does natural childbirth and breastfeeding really benefit an infant and why?

It’s very possible those beneficial bacteria introduced first into the gut have a head start and make a lasting and healthy impression, according to new research from a group of American and Canadian scientists featured in the journal eLife.

Scientists came to this conclusion by transplanting four different species of gut bacteria from older mice into the gastrointestinal tracts of young, genetically identical mice raised in a germ-free environment.

The primary takeaway: The gut bacterial diversity of younger mice over several months eventually resembled or was often dominated by the species that was transplanted in them first in repeated experiments.

That’s an intriguing outcome, considering genetics, environment, diet, physiology and lifestyle — all important factors to human health on their own — only account for less than 30 percent of any variations of the gut microbiome, says Dr. Jens Walter of the University of Alberta.

“Each of us harbors a microbiome that is vastly distinct, even for identical twins. Microbiomes are important for our health, but they appear to be shaped by many unknown factors, so it’s hugely important to understand why we are all different.”

Not only does this research show how the introduction and timing of bacteria in newborns could grow and dominate, it may also provide a bridge to better understand how the microbiome may be disrupted and harmed due to the use of antibiotics or C-section deliveries.

Dr. Walter believes science will figure out ways that infants can be colonized with specific bacteria that will steer their health in beneficial ways, but even he speculates that’s a 30-40-year journey.

Until that time comes (if ever), there are steps new Moms can take to protect the gut health of their babies right now, even if natural childbirth isn’t possible.

Breastfeeding is a great first step, as it provides the right mix of fats, protein and vitamins for newborns along with antibodies that boost their growing immune systems.

Unfortunately, some new Moms may not be able to breastfeed for as long as they planned or can’t due to health problems. Plus, their babies may be missing out human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), the largest solid component of breast milk apart from fat and carbohydrates and a natural prebiotic component of breast milk.

In these cases, new Moms may want to consider giving their babies a multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for young children up to age 3) that contains four strains of beneficial bacteria along with a natural prebiotic (FOS) that feeds their growing gut microbiomes.

Before you consider giving your newborn a probiotic, always talk to your pediatrician or doctor first.

A gut health boost is just one benefit among 18 that breastfeeding provides for you and your baby as you’ll learn in this extensive article.

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.

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).

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