July 15, 2013
When babies come into the world, their intestinal tract is free of bacteria. It’s at the time of delivery that a baby’s gut is first colonized with bacteria from the mom. A number of factors influence the type of bacteria that make their home in a newborn baby’s intestinal tract. One such factor is type of delivery. During a natural delivery, a baby is in contact with intestinal and vaginal flora from their mother, making direct colonization easier. During cesarean deliveries, the first contact a baby has with bacteria is not from mom but from the outside environment. This can dramatically alter the type of bacteria that make their home in a baby’s gastrointestinal tract.
Why is this important? The type of bacteria that colonize a baby’s intestinal tract impacts the development of a baby’s immune system. Baby’s that are delivered naturally are exposed to their mother’s vaginal and intestinal flora. As a result, they’re able to establish a healthy population of gut bacteria and optimal immunity more quickly, whereas infants delivered by cesarean section have a less diverse population of healthy gut bacteria, making them more prone towards infection. Bacteria that live in a baby’s intestines have a number of functions. They act as a barrier against harmful bacteria that cause disease, produce some vitamins, such as vitamin K and biotin, and “prime” a baby’s immune system, giving them protection against infection.
Another factor that influences the types of bacteria that colonize a newborn baby’s intestinal tract is the type of feeding they receive. When a mother breastfeeds her baby, the baby is exposed to bacteria from the mom’s skin and mammary glands. This contact helps to establish a healthier, more diverse population of bacteria in a baby’s intestines. Babies that are breast-fed rather than bottle-fed have a lower incidence of colic and digestive disturbances.
One group of bacteria that make up the predominance bacteria in a healthy baby’s gut are called Bifidobacteria. Babies delivered via cesarean section and babies that are bottle-fed have lower levels of these beneficial bacteria. The absence of adequate quantities of these bacteria may explain why these babies are at increased risk for intestinal infections and digestive disturbances. This group of bacteria has other benefits as well. They help produce B vitamins, aid in the digestion of proteins and carbohydrates which may help improve nutrient absorption and aid in the digestion of milk by producing lactase, the enzyme that breaks down the milk sugar lactose.
Natren’s “Life Start” product is designed to specifically address this gap. Each serving of Life Start provides a minimum of 1 billion Bifidobacterium infantis, NLS super strain. This product can be taken from the first day. For the infant, mix 1/4 tsp. (.5 gram) with non-chlorinated water or breast milk into a smooth thin paste. Administer using a clean fingertip or apply to breast nipple and let the infant suckle. For toddlers mix it in water, non-acidic juice (e.g. apple, grape), apple sauce or yogurt.
The “gut flora footprint” of you newborn is established in the first few months of life, and will define the health of their digestive system for life. We urge expectant and new mothers to research this area
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