What is the intestinal “Microbiome”?
This is the collective term for all the bacteria that live in our intestine which are essential for our immune system and weight regulation, even more so when it comes to babies.
When we are born, we receive important bacteria from our mother, however, this process can be interrupted in the following ways:
• Birth via C – section
• Premature birth
• Antibiotic usage (in mother or child)
• Bottle feeding vs breastfeeding
• No access to skin to skin contact between mother and child
A great deal of research has been done on the Infant Microbiome and the importance of good bacteria needed to sustain and develop it.
One very interesting finding was that of a nutrient in human breast milk that does not feed the baby, but in fact feeds good bacteria (probiotics) found in the baby’s gut. This is known as Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO). By feeding the good bacteria with HMO (prebiotic), they grow and proliferate in the baby’s gut, preventing bad bacteria from entering and making the baby ill.
As mentioned however, in some instances the good bacteria are destroyed or depleted (Antibiotic usage, premature birth etc.) and a probiotic supplement is needed.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics, defined as live micro-organisms with documented health benefits, have become a well-recognised option to support the composition of a beneficial microbiota in the gastrointestinal tract. Different strains have been documented to have different health benefits and it is very important to be sure of the strain contained in the probiotic.
Which one do you choose?
There are so many probiotics on the market with all sorts of claims to fame. How do you sift through all of them and select the right one for your baby?
With science of course!
Probiotics have been extensively studied in thousands of babies. The evidence shows that there are very specific strains of healthy bacteria that should be present in a healthy infant’s gut (namely, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium), both of which are found in Labinic. The studies also showed that the use of multi-strain probiotics proved to be more effective than single strains.
These good bacteria have been found to even improve survival of prematurely born babies. Probiotics improve the tolerance of milk feeds, may reduce gastro-esophageal reflux and may be used in more mature babies who have colic or tummy pains after exposure to antibiotics. Babies may be exposed to antibiotics if they are born by cesarean section, or if their mothers are given antibiotics e.g. for mastitis.
Some doctors and parents use probiotics routinely in babies to maintain healthy digestion and for long term benefits which have been indicated in some studies.
It would therefore make no sense to give the baby a different strain of probiotics as this is not naturally present in a healthy baby’s gut, right?