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photo of sleeping preemie baby

How Multi-Strain Probiotics May Help Preemie Babies

There’s plenty of steps that moms can take to protect the health of their newborn babies. Most experts agree breastfeeding and natural childbirth — both providing great gut health benefits too — sit at the top of that to-do list.

But, even the best-laid plans of moms and pediatricians can fall by the wayside when a newborn arrives prematurely (before the 37th week of gestation).

After a period of decline, preemie births have rebounded upward to nearly 10 percent of all births in the U.S. This creates opportunities for many more health problems among infants, according to the CDC.

Fortunately, moms and pediatricians may have a new weapon to help preemies, according to Cell Reports Medicine: Multi-strain probiotics.

The probiotics-breastfeeding combo

Few hospitals treat preemie babies with probiotics out of caution. Some health experts believe probiotics aren’t used because there’s been little evidence to demonstrate their benefits.

However, a sizeable number of preemies are delivered via C-section, creating many more health obstacles for infants and their developing immune systems in the gut.

That’s where multi-strain probiotics come in. A group of British researchers studied the benefits of probiotics via fecal samples collected from a group of 234 infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) over their first 100 days of life.

All infants in this trial were fed human breast milk. In addition, 101 babies received a probiotic containing Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus acidophilus. (Both are among the four featured strains in EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic Powder recommended for children up to age 3.)

The probiotic difference

The combination of breast milk and multi-strain probiotics was a difference-maker for that group of infants due to the addition of Bifidobacterium bifidum to their tiny bodies, according to researchers.

This strain of Bifidobacterium allowed infants to better digest breast milk, giving their developing immune systems a gentle boost in two important ways:

  1. Bifidobacterium bifidum contains genes that enable babies to better digest specific sugars in breast milk for use as prebiotics. (Prebiotics function as food for the good bugs in their guts.)
  2. pH levels dropped in stool samples, a good sign that health-harming bacteria won’t thrive.

“We hope that our findings will help direct future clinical trials and practice and help clinicians and healthcare professionals make a rational choice when it comes to diet-microbe combinations and ultimately help these at-risk preterm babies,” says Dr. Lindsay Hall, study co-author and a researcher at the Quadram Institute.

Despite the best of plans, however, many moms don’t have a choice whether to deliver their babies prematurely or via C-section. However, EndoMune Junior Advanced Probiotic Powder makes it easy to support the healthy immune development of young infants.

Sprinkling a tiny scoop of EndoMune Junior in your baby’s food or formula once a day can make a big difference!

(Please consult with your pediatrician before starting your baby on EndoMune Junior or any probiotic.)

 

References

University of East Anglia

Cell Reports Medicine

Penn Medicine News

Nature

CDC

 

 

 

 

pregnant woman holding belly

Could Beneficial Bacteria Protect Babies from Autism?

The cluster of developmental disorders linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the greatest challenges many American families will face.

Autism presents itself uniquely in each child depending on the range and intensity of his/her symptoms, typically with communication and social skills.

One out of 54 children (18.5 out of every 1,000) experience ASD to some degree, according to recent statistics reported by the CDC just from 2016, and the numbers keep climbing.

Over the years, evidence has shown connections between gut health and ASD that are hard to ignore. Often, studies show ASD children possess a distinctly different mix of gut bacteria than those who aren’t living on the spectrum.

Although consistent treatments remain elusive, future moms may be able to reduce some ASD risk factors for their newborns with some gut-friendly help.

Moms: Don’t stress out!

Stress can be a real problem, not only for new moms but their babies (both before and after they’re born). Stress may lead to serious problems, including miscarriages, preemie births and developmental delays.

In previous research, University of Colorado scientists observed how female rats that were stressed and given the drug terbutaline (prescribed by doctors in some cases to delay premature birth) later gave birth to pups presenting autism-like symptoms.

For this new study appearing in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Colorado scientists conducted essentially the same experiment with one major difference: another group of mice was inoculated with a species of beneficial bacteria known for its lasting anti-inflammatory effects on the brain (M. vaccae).

Female mice injected with beneficial bacteria had pups that didn’t experience autism symptoms compared to those that didn’t receive it.

No autism vaccine!

Researchers were quick to throw cold water on any assumptions they were creating a “vaccine” for autism, or that microbial interventions could relieve ASD symptoms in children (although there’s documented evidence that some have benefitted from it).

However, a day may come in the not-too-distant-future when stressed-out moms who are at a higher risk of having a child with challenges like ASD could be given a probiotic or be inoculated to support healthy brain development, says Dr. Christopher Lowry, co-author of the Colorado study.

Based on the positive results of studies like this one, researchers recommend that new moms consider gentle approaches to preventing potential problems with ASD with an emphasis on bacteria.

Some of these interventions for new moms include lowering their stress levels with a walk in nature surrounded by microbes (remember the hygiene hypothesis?), eating fermented foods and taking a probiotic.

For a new mom wanting to give her body a gut-friendly boost, EndoMune Advanced Probiotic provides a plethora of benefits from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, plus a proven prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the beneficial bacteria in her gut.

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Poor gut health may be responsible for the terrible toddler twos

Your toddler’s unique gut microbiome may contribute to those mood swings associated with the “terrible twos.”

There may be more going on besides fussy behavior, according to researchers at Ohio State University’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Those mood swings may provide indicators for early stages of chronic diseases, like allergies, asthma, bowel disease and even obesity, according to a recent study appearing in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Evidence has shown that intestinal bacteria interact with stress hormones, the very same ones linked to chronic illnesses like obesity and asthma, says Dr. Lisa Christian, a researcher with Ohio State’s Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

“A toddler’s temperament gives us a good idea of how they react to stress. This information combined with an analysis of their gut microbiome could ultimately help us identify opportunities to prevent chronic health issues earlier,” Dr. Christian explained.

Based on an analysis of 77 stool samples taken from young boys and girls ages 18-27 months old, there were signs of activity in the gut-brain axis, says Dr. Michael Bailey, study co-author, microbiologist and member of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.

“There is definitely communication between the bacteria in the gut and the brain, but we don’t know which one starts the conversation.”

No matter which side “started the conversation,” evidence appears to link young temperaments to the amount and diversity of gut bacteria, even after taking into account their diets, the mother’s birthing method and whether or not they were breast fed.

Matching gut bacteria to behaviors

Mothers were asked to assess their child’s behaviors using questionnaires that gauged 18 specific traits that fed into specific scales of emotional reactivity.

Based on those reports, researchers analyzed the different genetic types and quantities of gut bacteria in those stool samples (along with diets).

With improvements in DNA testing, which enable scientists to spot individual bacteria and concentrations in stool samples, “All of the predominant bacteria we found in our study have been previously linked to either changes in behavior or immune responses,” says Dr. Bailey, according to a press release.

Girls vs. boys

Generally, children who had the most genetically diverse gut bacteria more often displayed the behaviors connected with positive mood, impulsivity, sociability and curiosity.

Scientists have also been able to link extroverted personality traits in boys to an abundance of gut microbes from specific families (Ruminococcaceae and Rikenellaceae) and genera (Parabacteroides and Dialister).

“It’s possible that more outgoing kids could experience less trouble due to fewer stress hormones in their guts than those who are shy. Healthy guts regulate the production of stress hormones better or it could be a bit of both,” Dr. Bailey says.

The links between gut bacteria and temperament were less consistent in girls according to the study. Still, scientists linked some traits in girls — focused attention, self-restraint and cuddliness — to a less diverse microbiome.

Also, girls who had more of one particular family of gut bacteria (Rikenellaceae) experienced more fear than others with better balance in their gut health.

What makes a real difference?

Although researchers concluded diets didn’t make a difference in the behaviors and gut health of the toddlers they examined, they left room for the possibility that they could.

“It is certainly possible that the types or quantities of food that children with different temperaments choose to eat affect their microbiome,” says Dr. Christian.

Despite the findings in this study, evidence points to the method of birth — vaginal delivery versus caesarean — being a huge factor. Babies born via C-section had less gut diversity than those who were born naturally.

What’s more, the growing immune systems of small children aren’t nearly as prepared for challenges to come if they don’t have the right balance of gut bacteria. That’s where probiotics can help your child, whether he or she is a newborn, toddler or school age child.

That’s why EndoMune Junior now comes into two varieties: a powdered formula, ideal for mixing into food or drinks and a delicious chewable berry-flavored tablet that will leave them wanting more.

Each dose of EndoMune Junior contains 10 billion CFUs, including four species of proven health-promoting bacteria, and a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria already in your child’s gut.

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.

How to treat colic: 10 ways to calm your baby naturally and safely

endomune-baby colic copyOne of the most helpless feelings a new mom experiences is watching her newborn baby screaming at the top of his or her lungs inconsolably for hours that feel like an eternity, usually after feeding.

You read all the books and watched all the videos you could…but nothing really prepared you for how to treat colic in your otherwise healthy and happy baby.

All babies cry a great deal during the first few months, but how do you know when it’s time to worry? A rule of thumb for determining the difference between emotional crying and unexplainable outbursts of crying connected to colic, health experts say, is all about the “rule of threes.” For a baby to be diagnosed as colicky, he or she must cry for a minimum of three hours, at least three days a week, starting in the first three weeks of life.

Unfortunately, that’s not all. Some pediatric experts are concerned prolonged bouts of crying may affect a baby’s development, too.

Other concerns: Moms may be worsening the problem by overfeeding their babies or exposing them to the flood of emotions they’re feeling, but not doing a good job of shielding, from their newborn.

The good news for moms is that most babies grow out of their colicky ways by the time they’re 6 months old. But, how to treat colic shouldn’t be a waiting game, as there are plenty of ways to end it, safely and effectively.

Here are 10 ways to treat colic and help you and your baby get the rest and relaxation both of you need.

1. Modify your baby’s diet by eliminating irritating foods from your own diet — caffeine, dairy products and spicy cuisine — if you’re breastfeeding.

2. When you feed your colicky baby, make sure to hold that noisy bundle of joy as upright as possible. (This tip can reduce your baby’s risks of heartburn, too.)

3. Introduce soothing sounds like a fan, white-noise machine or a dryer to your baby’s environment.

4. Singing quietly to your baby not only soothes your baby but also lightens your mood.

5. Has your baby used a pacifier? Even breastfed babies can benefit from sucking on a pacifier to calm down.

6. The gentle motion your crying baby feels when taking a drive in a moving car can soothe his or her bad mood.

7. Walk away from your crying, colicky baby for a few minutes. You’ll be a better parent and able to handle those loud emotional cries from your stressed baby if you can take a short break.

8. Schedule break time from a trusted friend or family to give you a brief, calming respite.

9. Swaddling your baby (wrapping your infant snugly in a blanket to mimic the warmth of the womb) before putting him or her to bed may help them stay asleep.

10. Studies have shown treating your colicky baby with a multi-species probiotic containing 5-10 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) per day may be beneficial. A 2007 study concluded babies treated with a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior cried about 66 percent less than those given simethicone, a drug that reduces gas.

How to treat colic isn’t a mystery, and these 10 tips should help provide you and your baby some much-needed relief.

Soothe Your Baby’s Colic with Probiotics

Babies cry for a variety of reasons: they’re hungry, they’re thirsty, they need changing or they’re sick.  Sometimes they cry for no apparent reason at all.  This is called infantile colic.  A colicky baby cries or shows symptoms of discomfort, such as moaning or fussing, for up to several hours.

Three recent studies published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that many babies with infantile colic had an inflamed intestine caused by certain bacteria.  Based on the results, scientists concluded that higher levels of beneficial bacteria, like those found in probiotics, lessened intestinal inflammation in babies.

Like adults, babies benefit from a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria that are found in probiotics.  EndoMune Junior contains billions of bacteria that improves intestinal digestion, helping relieve colic and ease babies’ distress.

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