Gut health is important for all life stages and especially important during infancy. This is the “foundation stage” when the digestive and immune systems are developing and maturing – and will impact the infant for life!
If an infant’s gut health is compromised (by factors such as premature birth, birth interventions, antibiotics, medications, lack of breastfeeding, exposure to formula and infections, environmental toxins or stress) this increases the risk of lifetime diseases. (1)
Called the ‘origins of disease’ it is most important in the First 1000 days of life (conception to 2 years).
Whether born vaginally or via C-section, birth mode and other interventions can effect an infant’s gut microbiome from birth. C- section or Group B Strep positive mums are also routinely administered with antibiotics to prevent infection, which also reduce levels of good bacteria in the gut and breastmilk, affecting both mum and baby.
Symptoms such as colic are often more prevalent in babies that have had their gut flora compromised in this time.
So what can we do about it? Thankfully there are many things we can do to support good infant gut health (even if there have been compromising factors).
Breastmilk is not just ‘food’ for babies – it really is ‘personalised nutrition and medicine’ and also enables transfer of microbes between mother and baby, resulting in increased diversity within the infant’s gut microbiome.
As well as containing many components that support healthy and robust development for babies, breastmilk also contains live bacteria ‘PRObiotics’ and ‘PREbiotics’ that help develop the babies microbiome. These Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) have many beneficial roles in the optimal development of the above regulatory systems.
Ensuring we’re getting enough PREbiotics during the First 1000 Days stage is essential and can be found in foods like garlic, onion, leeks, cruciferous veg, legumes, brown rice, bananas, rye, oats, nuts and seeds.
PRObiotics can be found in fermented foods and also in supplemental form. Breastmilk strain probiotics (like the strain in the Qiara range – Lactobacillus Fermentum CECT5716) are particularly beneficial to take in pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding & infancy.
This breastmilk isolated strain has many clinically proven benefits for Infant gut health to support an infant’s immature digestive and developing immune system :
– Restore gut flora during and after antibiotic use
– Maintain and support gastrointestinal health and general wellbeing
– Improve healthy digestive system function and good bacteria growth
A probiotic such as Qiara Infant, can be beneficial for infants on prescribed antibiotics or with colic symptoms, reflux or unsettled after feeding, experiencing diarrhoea or constipation, respiratory cough or cold, or gastrointestinal health issues.
Whilst mum’s diet greatly contributes to her gut health, immune, microbiome and overall health and supports all outcomes from fertility to breastfeeding, new research also shows the connection between mum’s diet and the quality and abundance of the HMOs in her breastmilk!
A diet rich in plant foods, quality proteins and good fats supplies mum with the nutrient density and energy she needs for pregnancy and breastfeeding – as well as supporting good gut health.
Likewise for babies where good quality nutrient dense foods like vegetables, fruits, quality proteins and good fats support healthy growth and development beyond breastfeeding. If the baby is on formula – choosing those containing PREbiotics (FOS/GOS) and supplementing with a quality probiotic.