Breastfeeding and Infant Gut Health 101
Payal Adhikari, M.D. is a pediatrician and Clinical Implementation Director for Infinant Health. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and lived in Singapore prior to settling in Chicago with her husband and two kids. She encourages her patients to have fun with parenting and believes in the power of the microbiome to influence positive health outcomes.
Breastfeeding and Infant Gut Health 101
Breastfeeding can be a full-time job – Moms are literally dissolving their own bodies to feed their babies! Did you know that 15% of your hard-earned breast milk could be completely wasted by your baby? Human Milk Oligosaccharides, or HMOs, are the 3rd most abundant solid component of breast milk (after fats and lactose); While fats and lactose are food for your baby, the role of HMOs is to feed your baby’s microbiome, creating a calm and healthy gut. However, most babies in the U.S. are missing the key bacteria they need to digest HMOs, causing them to get pooped right out!
Researchers at UC-Davis Foods for Health Institute and Infinant Health extensively studied the stools of breastfed babies and found that there is a way to restore your baby’s gut microbiome, allowing them to use all the nutrients moms work so hard to create.
How do babies get their gut bacteria?
Infants are born with a clean slate. Their guts are nearly sterile and ready to be filled with bacteria from their environment – from the birth canal, mom’s skin, and even mom’s poop! Many years ago, babies were exposed to Bifidobacterium Infantis EVC001, whose job was to consume HMOs from breast milk. Due to the unintended consequences of modern practices (c-sections, antibiotics, even daily showering!), 90% of babies in the U.S. do not have this important strain of bacteria and are unable to utilize HMOs.
Why does my baby need a healthy gut microbiome?
Research shows that our gut health impacts many aspects of our overall health. Our microbiome’s influence extends far beyond the gut to provide signals to our neurologic, metabolic, and immune systems. Our gut bacteria have an important job to do!
Did you know that 80% of our immune system is in our gut? Research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome in babies supports the development of a stronger immune system
throughout life. It also has been shown to reduce “bad” bacteria that can cause inflammation. These “bad” bacteria have been linked to potential health issues such as allergies and other autoimmune diseases and baby ailments like colic and eczema.
How do I know if my baby needs a probiotic?
Research shows that gut health impacts the entire body, not just the gut. Infant dysbiosis describes changes in the baby’s microbiome that can be associated with various diseases due to abnormalities in the gut flora. The most common signs of dysbiosis and poor gut health are:
• Diaper rash
• Sleep disturbance
These symptoms are related to inflammation from an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria such as E. Coli, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus. Bifidobacterium Infantis EVC001, a “good” bacteria, reduces the growth of bad bacteria in your baby’s gut by 80%.
Almost 25% of babies suffer from colic, which is thought to be caused by an immature digestive system and these inflammatory bacteria – Introduction of
Bifidobacterium Infantis EVC001 reduces this inflammation by up to 98%, leading to less gassy, less inflamed, and generally happier babies!
In addition, babies born via C-section (almost ⅓ of babies in the U.S.) miss out on many beneficial bacteria from mom during birth, and babies who get antibiotics that can alter their gut flora can benefit from probiotics to help restore their microbiomes.
There are so many probiotics on the market – How do I choose?
Probiotics are a broad and overwhelming category of supplements! Like antibiotics, probiotics serve different purposes depending on who is taking them and for what reason. For breastfed babies, Evivo is the only probiotic that contains B. Infantis EVC001. While other probiotics may have different strains of B. Infantis, Evivo is the only one that can fully consume all of the HMOs in breast milk.
After introducing Evivo, the beneficial bacteria take over your infant’s GI tract, colonizing up to 80% of its surface – Leaving less room for the bad bacteria to thrive! More good bacteria means less gas, less inflammation, and happier babies!
In addition, Evivo colonizes the gut and can stick around long after you stop giving it. The latest research shows that babies given Evivo for the first month of life still had it in their GI tracts at one year of age. Studies also show that Evivo protects the mucin layer of the gut, leading to less mucousy stools. In addition, babies who get Evivo have less diaper rash and fewer, less watery stools per day; happier babies with less diapers to change for parents!
What if my baby is getting some formula?
Fed is best! We believe in finding a feeding plan that is right for your family. More than 70% of families in the U.S. combination-feed with formula or use formula exclusively. So how does Evivo play into families who aren’t exclusively feeding human milk?
Evivo only needs a small amount of breast milk to colonize your baby’s gut. Therefore, Evivo can be given with a combination of breast milk and formula and still gives your baby all the benefits from B. Infantis EVC001.
How do I give Evivo to my baby?
Babies can start taking Evivo as soon as they are born. Evivo comes in little sachets (much like tea!); Give your baby one sachet each day. Remember, the earlier you start, the more room your baby has for the good bacteria to take over. You can:
• Mix it with a few milliliters of breast milk and offer via syringe.
• Mix the powder with breast milk to form a paste; Apply the paste directly to your nipple before nursing.
• Put the powder directly into a bottle of breast milk or formula that you know your baby will finish.
How do I know if Evivo is working?
Most of the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome are long-term, but parents report some exciting short-term benefits as well: After one week of use, parents report decreased gas, diaper rash, colic, and improved sleep. Babies also usually have fewer and better formed, less watery stools – Who wouldn’t want to change less poopy diapers?