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.
We now know that pregnant mothers who consume junk food, actually cause changes in the development of the opioid signaling pathway in the brain of their unborn child. We believe that when mothers-to-be are overweight, it can cause the aorta walls of their babies to be already thickened at birth. We also have evidence that stress during pregnancy may affect the child's developing pathologies during adulthood, including obesity. Animal studies further suggest that poor pre-natal diets put your baby at risk for diabetes later in life.
Studies show that Omega 3 supplementation may help reduce early preterm birth, and help avoid low birth weight. Probiotics taken during pregnancy may help prevent eczema in an infant. And 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.
If a mother feeds her baby exclusively by breastfeeding for a minimum of 3 months, research shows that by age 2 the baby will have enhanced brain development versus babies where formula is used along with breastfeeding. And if exclusively breastfed for 6 months, it's been shown that the child will have a greater chance of avoiding chronic diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, eczema and celiac disease.
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.