April 14, 2014
Our children today are born into an environment that is substantially different than nature has provided for centuries. We now live in a world where food is more sterile and often genetically altered, antibacterial products are everywhere, and infants are introduced to processed foods at an earlier age. All this takes an increasing toll on the fragile makeup of a newborn’s digestive system.
Our digestive system is established in the very early years – in fact, by the time an infant reaches the age of two, the “microbiota” (the name given to the array of bacteria in the gut that makes the digestive system function) is already established, and will stay relatively unchanged for life. Humans and animals alike have developed natural ways of establishing a healthy composition of gut “flora” (another word for the beneficial bacteria in our gut). This starts in-utero, where the baby gets its initial bacterial start from the mother. During birth, the baby ingests more bacteria during the journey through the birth canal, and then more from the outside environment and from food & nourishment.
As we erode these natural mechanisms for starting a healthy gut microbiome in the early days, we impact the health of our children for life. Today, about one-third of births in the United States are by cesarean delivery. The World Health Organization recommends that babies should be breast fed for their first 6 months, yet only half of the babies in the US are still being fed breast milk at age 6 months, and one quarter are not being breast fed at all (Source: US CDC Report Card 2012). Research shows that babies born by cesarean delivery may be at an increased risk of developing immune system-related troubles more so than babies born vaginally and that gut care colonization maybe the source of these health issues. Babies born vaginally have different gut bacteria than those born by cesarean section.
There is increasing evidence that adding probiotics to children & infants diet can have significant health benefits. A number of studies have shown that babies and infants that have been fed probiotics have fewer instances of digestive disorders than those not exposed to probiotics. Further studies have also shown that pregnant and lactating mothers pass the benefits of probiotics naturally through breast milk to their child.
Natren’s Life Start is a probiotic created specifically for infants, small children and expectant mothers. It contains the beneficial bacteria strain Bifidobacterium infantis, which is one of the most important bacteria for young children . In fact, the entire species of Bifidobacteria infantis is very specific for infant health. It is safe to give to newborn babies, and also may be taken by pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Just add ¼ teaspoon to breast milk or non-chlorinated water to make a thin paste, then administer to a clean fingertip or nipple and let the infant suckle. For toddlers and small children, add to water, yogurt or non-acidic food or juice. We feel at Natren that our strain NLS, from the B. infantis species, is one of the best choices if you want to supplement with a true B. infantis. The organism is very difficult to grow and stabilize and while there are several brands that list it on their label, the fact is that there are very few probiotic manufacturers who have the ability to culture a true B. infantis.
Establishing a healthy digestive system for your child is a vital responsibility of being a parent. The care and attention you give to giving your child a robust gut ecosystem will influence their digestive and overall health for life – and nothing is more important than that.
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