Science is revealing how we can have healthy babies. A healthy dose of good bacteria for babies will do the trick. It may sound inconsistent with the practice of having sterile and germ-free environments around newborn babies. However, studies show that a healthy gut bacterial population can help boost the infant’s immunity against life-threatening diseases, allergies and may even help prevent obesity. The baby immune system
Inoculation Starts at Birth
The infant’s first brush with bacteria and microbes happen during the vaginal passage. During childbirth, a baby goes through a “microbial bath” from the mother’s vaginal flora. Essentially, this initial exposure to microbes is crucial in training the baby immune system. These microbes equip the infant’s body to recognize harmful organisms. Without this initial “coat of microbes” from the mother, a baby will most likely have a weak immune system. Likewise, an untrained immune system can become hypersensitive even to benign substances like dust or pollen and develop asthma or allergies. The passing of microbes and good bacteria for babies during birth helps in ensuring the survival of the baby outside the protective environment of the mother’s womb.
However, babies delivered via caesarian section is missing out on the good bacteria for babies. Infants born via Caesarean section are not able to go through a “microbial bath” hence developed an altered gut bacterial composition than those delivered through vaginal birth. In a 2007 study conducted by practitioners from Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast, Northern Ireland, it was found that children delivered via Caesarian section have a 20% increase in the subsequent risk of asthma.
A study in 2016 headed by Maria G. Dominguez-Bello et al., tried to restore the bacterial count on C-section borne infants using vaginal seeding. The team observed a small group of 18 babies – 7 born vaginally, 11 born via caesarian.
Four of the eleven babies borne via C-Section were swabbed with saline solution cultured with their mother’s vaginal microbes. For one month, the researchers tracked the participants of this study, and the results were encouraging. Experts are following the progress of this study – further research is currently being conducted at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Virginia using a bigger sample.
What Our Gut is Telling Us
The body has bacterial cells. There are trillions of them, and they can be found in our stomach. These microorganisms, collectively known as the human microbiome, is responsible for keeping our internal ecosystem stable and robust.
The laying out of our microbiome foundation occurs during infancy. However, factors such as birth type, limited breastfeeding, use of antibiotics and hyper-cleanliness contribute to the distortion of the population of microorganisms in an infant’s gut.
Each bacterium has a specific function in our system. Changes in the population of the following microorganisms may have an impact on your child’s health:
Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis)
B. infantis is a type of lactic acid found in our oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract. This probiotic is essential to protecting the infant’s gut against bad bacteria. B. Infantis does this by producing protein and acids that line the intestinal cells. Likewise, a healthy gut translates to a healthy baby immune system. A baby is less likely to catch a cold and flu or have skin problems and other illnesses with a healthy immune system. This probiotic also produces folate which is vital for the production of red blood cells.
With enough supply of red blood cells, the circulation of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide in the body becomes more efficient. Healthy blood circulation is crucial in the baby’s overall development. It is the same way for good bacteria for babies.
Our digestive tract, predominantly our large intestines, contains the probiotic Lactobacillus. Lactobacilli aid in digestion helps prevent diarrhea, promotes lesser bouts of colic and inhibits ts the growth of harmful pathogens in the infant’s gut. Lactobacillus also stimulate the baby immune system and helps reduce the risk of atopic eczema. These good bacteria strain also helps break down sugar more efficiently.
Consequently, this helps in providing nutrients and energy for growth and prevent weight problems in the future. Lactobacillus also works well with B. infantis in carbohydrate fermentation. An efficient fermentation means good acid production, which is essential for warding off harmful pathogens.
The good bacteria for babies
A study conducted by Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) observed 319 subjects. Their studies reveal that 3-month-old infants having a significantly lower population of the gut bacterial genera Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia are at higher risk of asthma later in life. While most babies naturally acquire these good bacteria for babies, some infants fail to have enough population of these good bacteria in their digestive tract. Experts are looking at developing a therapeutic method in preventing asthma with this new information.
A baby’s immune system becomes stronger by exposure to a stimulus. The immune system must test, adapt, and learn how to cope with its environment. Parents will do anything to strengthen a baby’s immune system. A good source of probiotics is breastmilk and it is a better option over milk formulas. Second, lessen the use of antibiotics that may disrupt the building of your kid’s microbiome. Lastly, equip your child by letting him touch things, play and interact with the environment. It also helps if parents understand the benefit of good bacteria for babies.