Can my baby benefit from Probiotics?
HOW YOUR BABY CAN BENEFIT FROM PROBIOTICS. Although it was previously believed that amniotic fluid is sterile, we now know that this is your baby’s first introduction to bacterial colonization. The kind of bacteria in the amniotic fluid depends on the kind of bacteria in mom’s gut flora. During a vaginal birth, the baby is further colonized by bacteria in the birth canal and in C-sections the baby is often colonized by mom’s skin.
If mom does not have optimal microbiomes as is often the case, then this directly affects and impacts baby’s health and immunity. Giving your infant a probiotics not only supports gut health but also promotes an array of other benefits such as acting as a defence against colic as well as boosting your baby's immunity.
Here are a few reasons to add a probiotic to your child's diet:
DIGESTIVE HEALTH - Without a proper balance of gut bacteria, the baby may develop colic, acid reflux, constipation or diarrhoea. Colic affects up to 28% of infants causing considerable stress for parents. Probiotics for infants and children aid in the treatment of diarrhoea by reducing its severity.
IMMUNITY – More than 70% of our immune system resides in our gut so it then makes perfect sense that when gut bacteria isn’t optimal baby’s immune system is not going to be optimal. Baby may be more susceptible to catching colds, flu and other illnesses.
MOOD – There is a lot of data supporting the brain-gut connection since our gut is called our 2nd brain. Gut bacteria has been shown to directly affect mood from depression and anxiety to shyness. Once study found that feeding mice Lactobacillus probiotics helped reduce anxiety. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522824/)
HEALTHY SKIN – Babies skin is particularly sensitive and may be more susceptible to inflammation and infection. A study found that less than optimal gut flora contributed to the skin being less efficient as a protective organ and more susceptible to infection. (http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6198846).
ALLERGIES - It is extremely important for mothers-to-be to consume probiotics during pregnancy. The babies first bacterial exposures will help lay the foundation of their immune system and will teach your baby's immune system whether to identify foods as foreign substances and attack them. If your baby has a robust healthy makeup of gut bacteria may help prevent allergies.
There are many strands of probiotics that can be beneficial to your infant but here are the top 3
Bifidum Infantis that is most prevalent and powerful in infants and declines as we age. One study found that B. Infantis can reduce inflammation and support the immune system. (http:/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3744517)
Lactobacillus Reuteri is the strain that has been found to have many benefits. For children 6 months and up who took supplemental L.Reuteri had nearly one third fewer cases of diarrhoea and respiratory infections. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22981952)
Lactobacillus Plantarum is a “superstar” probiotic and assists to establish the ecosystem of your new-borns gut and to help keep the “bad” bacteria from adhering to your babies gut.
Adding probiotics through supplementation may help your baby in getting the best possible start. It's recommended that children take probiotics as early as possible to assist in promoting a healthy/balanced gut. By the time a child reaches the age of one, their gut flora already closely resembles that of an adult. Setting the foundation of a balanced gut can affect their health throughout childhood and many years to come.
Please discuss probiotics and probiotic supplementation with your paediatrician or healthcare professional to assess whether probiotics are right for your baby.