You are surrounded by an ocean of bacteria. In fact, a host of diverse bacteria make their home inside your intestinal tract. Fortunately, many of these species of bacteria are “friendly”, meaning they provide health benefits to the host. What’s interesting is bacteria take up residence in the human gut very early in life, before a baby even enters the world. In fact, one of the baby’s first encounters with bacteria is when it passes through mom’s birth canal and becomes colonized with bacteria from her reproductive tract.
The bacteria a baby is exposed to during passage through the birth canal establishes a blueprint for its future gut microbiota. You may wonder how babies delivered by C-section become colonized with bacteria, since they don’t pass through the birth canal. Interestingly, research shows babies brought into the world via Csection are colonized with populations of gut bacteria that are different from infants born the natural way, via vaginal delivery. Babies delivered through C-section are inhabited with bacteria similar to those found on the mother’s skin or from their environmental and hospital setting, while babies born vaginally become populated with bacteria from their mom’s reproductive tract.
The Role Of Bifidobacterium infantis
Infants born vaginally have a higher concentration of Bifidobacterium, including a species called Bifidobacterium infantis. This particular bacteria is also more common in the guts of infants who are breastfed rather than bottle fed. Breast milk is rich in human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) that infants can’t break down or use as an energy source. So why is it there? Unlike humans, B. infantis bacteria CAN break down human milk oligosaccharides and use this component of breast milk as a source of energy. In fact, nature may have placed HMOs in breast milk specifically to foster the growth of B. infantis.
Obviously, if humans evolved to have human milk oligosaccharides in breast milk to support the growth of bacteria like B. infantis, this strain of bacteria must be unique in the health benefits it offers a growing infant. According to research, B. infantis has immune system benefits and helps maintain the integrity of the small intestinal wall. In addition, the presence or absence of B. infantis may play a role in whether a child develops food sensitivities. Scientists have found that babies born in some African countries, where the food chain has been relatively undisturbed have less than half the rate of allergies, and much higher levels of B. infantis relative to certain Western countries. Although this doesn’t prove cause and effect, B. infantis, like other probiotic bacteria, play a role in supporting immune health, and food sensitivities are immune-related.
B. infantis offers other health benefits as well. As a gut-friendly probiotic bacteria, it helps crowd out “bad guy” bacteria capable of causing infection by competing for their resources. Unfortunately, even full-term babies born vaginally may not get enough exposure to B. infantis early in life to optimize their health. A study carried out at the University of Pennsylvania found only about 20% of infants are colonized with ideal quantities of these friendly bacteria. Another study from the University of California, Davis just named B. infantis the “champion colonizer of the infant gut” in a paper that evaluated how human breast milk selects for specific infant intestinal bacteria. Infants born by C-section, premature babies, infants fed formula and any infant exposed to a lengthy hospital stay after birth, would likely have the lowest levels and may benefit from a probiotic supplement that contains B. infantis to get the healthiest start in life.
As you can see, gut bacteria play a role in health and their influence is felt at a very early stage in life. That’s why probiotic support is important at all stages in life and why it's so important that you get the best probiotic for your newborn.
Natren Life Start
Life Start with Bifidobacterium infantis, the most predominant beneficial bacteria found in healthy infants is available in two dairy bases (cow’s milk and goat’s milk), and now a vegan base. Each serving of Life Start provides a minimum of 1 billion cfu of Bifidobacterium infantis, NLS super strain. It can be easily served to infants by adding the probiotic powder to a small amount of water to form a paste, then applying the paste to the mother’s nipple just prior to breastfeeding. It can also be mixed with breast milk or formula and given in a bottle or applied to the tip of a clean finger that the baby can suckle on. Life Start is beneficial for all infants, and is particularly helpful for babies born by Caesarian section. This product can be taken from the first day to help promote a long and healthy life.