How much do you know about your baby's gut health?
At Mother Nutrient, we talk a lot about the importance of supporting babies’ health through a thriving gut microbiome. A diverse and balanced gut microbiota is made up of thousands of bacteria that play a role in establishing critical foundations for your baby’s health.
From the very first days of life, the gut microbiome impacts your baby’s gut health and the development of their immune system [1,2]. Even the bacteria that they encounter during vaginal birth contributes to their microbiome. Studies have demonstrated that the presence of harmful bacteria in these critical stages of development can affect their immune systems and lead to acute and long-term health risks, including immune abnormalities and chronic inflammation [3,4,5,6].
A baby’s gut microbiome can also be negatively affected by cesarean birth, antibiotic use, hospitalization, exposure to toxins, and formula feeding .
How healthy are babies’ gut microbiomes?
Well, with the help of a fascinating new study, we now have a better idea. Stanford University, the University of Nebraska, and Evolve BioSystems assessed the status of infant gut microbiomes in U.S. babies. They found that the majority of babies have an imbalance between beneficial and harmful bacteria in their gut and that most babies lack key gut bacteria needed to support their health and development .
The bacterial compositions of 227 infants under 6 months of age across 5 states were determined by analyzing their fecal samples. They determined bacteria types and amounts, and the presence of antibiotic resistant genes. The bacterial ability to fully utilize breast milk was also assessed since it is an indication of the presence of beneficial bacteria.
The study found that on average, babies in the U.S are deficient in key gut bacteria, like Bifidobacterium (average abundance was 20%). Bifidobacteria are considered an important and fundamental component of a healthy infant gut microbiome and immune development .
One particular strain, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. Infantis (B. infantis), is especially known for its beneficial impact on infant gut health and immune system development. It helps to protect against gut pathogens linked to common newborn conditions like colic and diaper rash. B. Infantis is also the most efficient strain at metabolizing carbohydrates in breast milk called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) into usable nutrients . This means they can help maximize the nutrients babies get from breastmilk.
A shocking result is that 90% of babies were missing B. infantis.
“This study provides the clearest picture to date of just how widespread this issue is and highlights the need to address B. infantis deficiency in the infant gut right from the start.”
Another important discovery was the prevalence of potentially harmful bacteria.
Many of these, which included Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus, and Staphylococcus, carry genes related to antibiotic resistance. The finding indicates that many babies have an unbalanced gut microbiome, with too much harmful bacteria and not enough beneficial bacteria that help with utilizing nutrients from breast milk.
The researchers concluded:
“The infant gut microbiome in the United States is clearly dysfunctional, and we believe this is a critical factor underpinning many of the infant and childhood ailments we see today across the country.”
So what can you do to support your baby’s gut microbiome?
The importance of creating and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is why we have a whole line of probiotics for you and your baby.
Our Infant Probiotics has a gentle 7.5 billion CFU blend of 5 billion Lactobacillus and 2.5 billion Bifidobacterium species, including the key strain discussed in this study, B. infantis. It safely supports the metabolic and intestinal needs of babies and helps to develop and stimulate the maturation of the body’s own immune response. It comes in powder form, it's hypoallergenic and is good for babies up to 2 years old.
We also offer a Children’s probiotic for 2+ year olds that has 8 strains, which also includes B. infantis. At 25 billion CFU, it’s one of the highest CFU counts you can find for children, and includes species that are clinically shown to support children's gastrointestinal health and immune function.
Taking a probiotic yourself can also provide benefits to your baby's gut.
You can support your baby’s developing baby’s microbiota and immune system through passing on beneficial bacteria through your breast milk. Our Breastfeeding Probiotics has a lactobacillus strain that has been clinically shown to support breast health and maintain a healthy bacterial balance in breast milk, and our Women’s Probiotic is a 40 billion CFU multi-strain probiotic with 4 main beneficial probiotic strains to support your digestive function and immune health.
Our newest PRE+PRObiotic is an innovative and powerful 50 billion CFU prebiotic and probiotic blend that provides comprehensive microbiome support in one capsule.
We are here to support you through all stages of motherhood!
It’s clear that cultivating a balanced and thriving gut microbiome in our babies is key to supporting a critical foundation for their long term health. As we gain new information through these kinds of studies, Mother Nutrient will continue to provide quality, effective microbiome support for both you and your children.
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Olin, A. et al. Stereotypic immune system development in newborn children. Cell 174, 1277-1292.e1214. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2018.06.045 (2018).
Gensollen, T., Iyer, S. S., Kasper, D. L. & Blumberg, R. S. How colonization by microbiota in early life shapes the immune system. Science 352, 539–544 (2016).
Cox, L. M. et al. Altering the intestinal microbiota during a critical developmental window has lasting metabolic consequences. Cell 158, 705–721 (2014).
Prescott, S. L. Early-life environmental determinants of allergic diseases and the wider pandemic of inflammatory noncommunicable diseases. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 131, 23–30 (2013).
Depner, M. et al. Maturation of the gut microbiome during the first year of life contributes to the protective farm effect on childhood asthma. Nat. Med. 26, 1766–1775 (2020).
Tanaka, M. & Nakayama, J. Development of the gut microbiota in infancy and its impact on health in later life. Allergol. Int. 66, 515–522 (2017).
Bokulich NA1 , et al. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aad7121. Antibiotics, birth mode, and diet shape microbiome maturation during early life. Sci Transl Med. 2016 Jun 15;8(343):343ra82.
Casaburi, G., Duar, R.M., Brown, H. et al. Metagenomic insights of the infant microbiome community structure and function across multiple sites in the United States. Sci Rep 11, 1472 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-80583-9
Henrick, B. M. et al. Colonization by B. infantis EVC001 modulates enteric inflammation in exclusively breastfed infants. Pediatr. Res. 86, 749–757 (2019).
Duar, R. M., Henrick, B. M., Casaburi, G. & Frese, S. A. Integrating the ecosystem services framework to define dysbiosis of the breastfed infant gut: the role of B. infantis and human milk oligosaccharides. Front. Nutr. 7, 33 (2020)