Pregnancy and Maternity
Science is just now discovering the importance of taking prebiotics and probiotics, before and after delivery, for healthier babies and their healthier futures.
Staying healthy during pregnancy has always been smart. But now we know more about why. And how.
The mother's gut microbiota appears to transfer directly to the infant's GI track to colonize the newborn's gut with mom's resident probiotic bacteria. So a healthy gut in mom, means a good start for the baby.
Roughly 1/3 of births in the U.S. are by cesarean section, or "C-section." And for those babies, there's a greater likelihood of them developing asthma and a 5 times greater chance of them having allergies by age 2 than those born vaginally. C-section children weigh less at birth, but are much more likely to become obese later in life. By age 11, kids delivered by C-section were noted in one study to be 83% more likely to be overweight than kids born vaginally.
It's believed that during delivery, the mother's birth canal may have amplified levels of probiotic bacteria, which the baby takes in by way of its skin, mouth, eyes and nose. Higher levels of all the maternal probiotic bacteria, and in particular the Lactobacillus bacteria – key in milk digestion – may help to begin populating the baby's gut, and establish a healthy microbiota for the development of a robust immune system.
Breast milk, and particularly the "first milk" colostrum, is high in probiotic bacteria. Up to 700 species, though fewer in overweight moms. These are vital to newborns in getting their digestive and immune systems off to a healthy start. Breast milk also provides prebiotic fibers – a recent discovery. It all adds up to making nursing a key part of a child's early and lifelong good health.