Guest Blog By: Rachel Scheidler, RDN
"Currently, one of the most studied topics in pediatric medicine is the correlation between the infant gut microbiome and short and long-term health outcomes. Scientists and researchers are rapidly uncovering that the bacteria living within and around us play major roles in our health. And there is a chance we might be able to control these microbes and their influence on us from the start.
The term microbiome refers to the bacterial ecosystem of the gut. Over 2000 years ago Hippocrates said, “All diseases start in the gut”. Now we know it is perhaps not all disease, but he was certainly onto something! Our gut health is vitally important to our overall health and it starts the second we are born.
Infants are born with sterile guts, which means they are immediately inoculated with the bacteria in their environment upon birth. Ample research shows babies who are born vaginally are often healthier than their c-section counterparts. An analysis of 1.9 million infants born between 1977 and 2012 showed infants born via c-sections had significantly increased risks of asthma, juvenile arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), immune deficiencies and leukemia. (Sevelsted et al. 2015) It is also well documented that the microbiome of a vaginally born infant is significantly different from the microbiome of a c-section born infant. This data has led some new parents to try practices like vaginal swabbing which are not supported by evidence-based research and exposes their babies to undue health risks.
The reason practices like vaginal swabbing don’t work is because it is not mom’s vaginal bacteria that seeds the baby’s gut and provides protection, but it is mom’s own gut bacteria that baby encounters during vaginal birth that provides the beneficial protective bacteria.
One particular gut bacteria, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), has been identified by researchers at the University of California Davis as the most important keystone bacteria babies need in their gut during the first six months of life. B. infantis has been clinically proven to work synergistically with mom’s breastmilk to colonize the infant gut and provide protective qualities.
Mom’s breastmilk is not only a perfect food for baby, but it is also a perfect food for this specific
beneficial gut bacteria. A whopping 15% of mom’s milk is comprised of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). These HMOs are the fibrous part of breastmilk and are indigestible to baby. Without the presence of B. infantis in the gut to consume them, babies lose out on valuable nutrients which end up in the diaper. Babies who lack B. infantis often have watery poops, higher incidence of colic and a fecal pH that contributes to diaper rash.
Fortunately, a 2017 study shows that there is something parents can do to make sure their little one’s gut health is protected from day one. In this study, babies given B. infantis EVC001 once daily had an unprecedented 80% reduction in pathogenic (bad) bacteria, a 90% reduction in antibiotic resistance bacteria, and a 98% reduction in gut inflammation. Inflammation in infancy is correlated with many immune development issues such as asthma, allergies and IBD.
So, is a baby who is born vaginally fully protected? Not always, even if mom delivers vaginally and breastfeeds – 9 out of 10 babies today are still missing this beneficial bacteria. B. infantis is very susceptible to antibiotics, so if you are GBS+ or had to be on antibiotics for any reason throughout your life prior to giving birth, it is unlikely you will pass this beneficial bacteria to your baby. In addition, if your mom was on antibiotics, or if you were a c-section or a formula fed baby the likelihood of you having any to pass on is slim.
C-sections, antibiotics, and formula are often necessary lifesaving interventions, but they unfortunately do not come without consequences. The good news is that new science and solutions keep emerging. You can now ensure your baby’s gut is properly balanced by supplementing with B. infantis probiotic during baby’s first six months of life. When choosing a probiotic for your baby, it is important to choose a proven strain that is manufactured with high safety standards. That is why scientists from the UC Davis Foods for Health Institute created Evivo. Evivo is clinically proven and is manufactured at the highest possible quality and safety standards. Evivo is available for NICU and consumer use. For more information or to purchase, visit Evivo.com. And don’t forget to use coupon code Evivo20 for $20 off a starter kit at checkout."
1. Sevelsted A, Stokholm J, Bonnelykke K et al. Cesarean section and chronic immune
2. Henrick BM, Chew S, Casaburi G et al. Colonization by B. infantis EVC001 modulates
enteric inflammation in exclusively breastfed infants. Pediatr Res. 2019;86:749-57
3. Casaburi G, Duar RM, Vance DP et al. Early-life gut microbiome modulation reduces the
abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antimicrob Resist In Control. 2019;8:1–18.
4. Casaburi G, Frese SA. Colonization of breastfed infants by Bifidobacterium
longum subsp. infantis EVC001 reduces virulence gene abundance. Human Microbiome