As Laura watched her colicky baby, J.D., wail for weeks on end, she wondered if his digestive difficulties had anything to do with his cesarean section delivery.
Laura, who asked that her last name not be used, had heard from friends that germs from their mothers’ birth canal and other body fluids benefit babies during vaginal birth. She’d also heard that babies born through C-section can have health problems as a result of not getting enough of these microorganisms. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
Laura chose to give her son probiotics as J.D. grew older and still didn’t feel better, a contentious concept whose time may be coming, according to new study. Laura says J.D. seemed better after a few days, and she joined the swelling ranks of parents who have switched to infant probiotics. “It was a tremendous relief.” probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
J.D.’s stomach problems didn’t go away completely with probiotics; if Laura had to put him on antibiotics or supplement his diet with formula, the symptoms would reappear. She claims, however, that the medications appeared to assist.
She recalls, “I was so grateful to have something that was a straightforward answer.” “I’m not in need of a prescription.” I don’t think I’ll need to see a doctor about it. It’s right in front of me.”
In the United States, one in every three newborns is born via C-section, just as J.D. Although this procedure can save both mothers and newborns’ lives, studies show that children born via C-section are more likely to develop obesity, allergies, type I diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease later in life. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
According to Jenifer Lightdale, a pediatric gastroenterologist at UMass Memorial Medical Center, more parents are becoming aware of the importance of the gut microbiome in their children’s health. As a result, some C-section parents, like Laura, are turning to probiotics in the hopes of improving their babies’ health — and according to a recent Finnish study published in the journal Microbiome, they may be on the right track. Many pediatricians, though, are skeptical.
Thirteen years ago, a group of roughly 1,200 Finnish mothers gave birth to their babies, some vaginally and others via C-section. Half of the new mothers were given specific newborn probiotics, while the other half were given a placebo, according to researchers at the University of Helsinki. Since then, experts have been researching the health of these newborns, who are now preteens. The researchers say that so far, the outcomes for C-section newborns are positive.
C-section babies who did not receive probiotics had considerably lower quantities of helpful bacteria than vaginally delivered babies, according to the researchers. This discrepancy was reversed with probiotics, but only in newborns who were also breastfed. This caveat may be due to the fact that breast milk contains prebiotics, which are crucial food for bacteria, whereas most formula does not. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
According to Tommi Vatanen, a microbiologist from the University of Auckland in New Zealand who was not involved in the study, not all microorganisms in probiotics are equally useful. Every species of microorganism has a unique function and interacts with the body in a unique way.
Some bacteria types seen in the newborn gut are “immunomodulatory,” which means they interact with the immune system directly. According to Katri Korpela, an immunobiologist at the University of Helsinki and the study’s principal author, these bacteria are especially crucial during infancy, when “the long-term training of the immune system occurs.” “The immune system is continually talking with the bacteria in the gut” during this time.
It’s possible that missing out on this immunological education will contribute to future health issues. When compared to other C-section babies, those delivered through C-section were over 70% less likely to acquire a food allergy before the age of five, and almost 60% less likely to develop eczema if they had received a probiotic, according to an earlier study based on Korpela’s sample of babies. This difference was not detected in vaginally delivered newborns, leading researchers to believe that allergy risk may play a role in the impacts of C-section.
Should parents of C-section babies use probiotics as a result of these findings? According to Korpela, the potential benefits far exceed the hazards. However, Adam Ratner, a pediatric gastroenterologist at NYU Langone Health, is skeptical.
“It’s not like something horrible will happen… “Except when it does, right?” says the narrator. According to Ratner. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
For example, in October 2014, an eight-day-old baby delivered via C-section at Yale New Haven Hospital died in intensive care after being administered multiple doses of mold-contaminated probiotics. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
Ratner and other doctors point out that probiotics are not controlled by the US Food and Drug Administration. Pathogens and fungus may be accidentally added to probiotics during the manufacturing process due to a lack of regulation, as was the case at Yale New Haven.
According to Josef Neu, a neonatologist at University of Florida Health, it’s critical to remember that the baby in this case was premature and immunocompromised. He goes on to say that probiotics are most likely safe in healthy kids that are born at full term.
The more likely issue is that consumer-purchased probiotics do not contain the live, beneficial bacteria that the label claims. The mothers in Korpela’s study benefited from probiotic strains that were carefully monitored. According to NYU’s Ratner, people do not get that when they buy a newborn probiotic at their local grocery store.
With newborn probiotics, lack of regulation isn’t the only issue. According to Stacy Kahn, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, “no one really knows what the optimum newborn probiotic should contain.” Although evidence suggests that immunomodulatory bacteria are important, there are many more bacteria strains whose roles are unknown to us. probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
“I’m not sure we have a well-defined community that will be universally helpful and risk-free,” Kahn says. “We don’t know what strains we’re dealing with, and we don’t know how long we’ll be dealing with them.” probioticseverything.com probiotics c section babies
This dearth of understanding is all the more incentive, she says, to keep investigating probiotics and keeping track of children like those in Korpela’s group as they grow.
Korpela, on the other hand, has no intention of waiting for data for the rest of his life. Even though her infant girl is just five weeks old, she is already receiving probiotics. During our conversation, Korpela adds, “It’s a really easy thing for me to do, I think,” as her daughter coos and trills like a dove in the background. “I mean, I’m not sure I’d do it if I didn’t see such apparent benefits.” probioticseverything.com