Health Predictions and Your Baby’s Diaper

Health Predictions and Your Baby’s DiaperYou may not be terribly keen on looking at the contents of your baby’s diaper but researchers are. That’s because the clues that lie in that pile of poo may shed light into many health predictions, including your baby’s intelligence.

It is all related to the microbiome. The microbiome – community of gut bacteria – has a big impact on a person’s health. There are trillions of bacteria that live there, dictating immune strength and many other health factors.

Babies begin to build their microbiome at birth and how they are born is their initiation process. Babies born vaginally are immediately colonized with all sorts of microbes from their mother, which becomes the beginning of their microbiome. As unhealthy as that may seem, it is actually a tremendous way to build immune health.

Breastfeeding is another fantastic way to contribute to your baby’s microbiome and strengthen her gut. That’s because breast milk is very easy to digest. It seals the gut and prevents pathogens from entering the blood stream (leaky gut).

The most recent study on babies’ microbiome took a different approach. This time researchers wanted to know the link between the microbiome and intelligence. The study done out of the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine reviewed diaper samples from one-year olds and then tested their cognition at age two.

They discovered that certain colonies of microbial communities – Bacteroids – were associated with higher intelligence. Also, a less diverse and more specific microbiome was linked with greater cognition. This is contrary to other health predications that show greater diversity reduces risk of certain diseases and conditions.

Researchers don’t know why certain types of bacteria support higher brain function or even how to advise parents on how to create the ideal microbiome for intelligence. All of these areas are yet to be determined as research continues.

However, the implications are fascinating. If we can alter the mircobiome, can we affect babies’ intelligence or reduce the risk of developmental disorders? One surprising factor that researchers realized was that the microbiomes of babies are much like adults by the age of one. Perhaps earlier intervention will be necessary to make significant changes.

The next time you change a smelly diaper, just think, it could hold the key to your baby’s health.

Sources: Science Daily and CNN

 

Breastfeeding for your Baby’s Healthy Gut

We often share the amazing benefits of breastfeeding on our blog.  For your baby, breast milk is the number one superfood on the planet and is designed to meet her exact nutritional requirements.

New research published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology shows that breastfeeding is especially healthy for your baby’s gut.  In discovering how babies use breast milk to improve gut bacteria, researchers have also uncovered how they may be able to replicate it with cow’s milk.

Every human being has trillions of microbes that live in the digestive tract.  According to the latest studies, this healthy bacteria influences much about our biological health including our immune system, metabolism, nutritional absorption and physiology.  The community of microbes in the digestive system is referred to as the gut microbiome and there’s a lot riding on this tiny population.

Breastfeeding for your Baby’s Healthy Gut

Babies have a non-existent gut microbiome until the moment they are born.  Bacteria passed from mother to baby during vaginal delivery is the first opportunity for babies to build this important network.  That’s why recent research acknowledges the benefits of exposing babies born via C-section to vaginal bacteria from their mothers.  The birthing process is a vital first step in protecting babies and beginning to establish their gut microbiome.

Beyond birth, the leading source of nourishing a baby’s gut microbiome is through breastfeeding.  Breast milk contains glycoproteins that introduce bacteria from the mother and her diet into the baby’s digestive system.  Glycoproteins are made up of protein and sugars known as oliosaccharides.  Specific bacterium are produced that help infants and young children develop enzymes that strengthen their bodies.  One crucial enzyme called EndoBI-1 was determined to come from the oliosaccaride sugars found in glycoproteins.

Identifying the source of EndoBI-1 from breast milk compounds is breakthrough on several levels.  First, it better informs medical professionals about how breastfeeding improves a baby’s overall health, starting with the gut microbiome.  And it proves that breast milk has evolved with the human species.  Pretty phenomenal!  But it also has greater implications for babies who cannot or are not breastfed.

Researchers now believe that non-breastfed babies can benefit from these findings as well.  If formula products incorporate oliosaccharides, they can break down cow’s milk in a similar way to a human mother’s milk.  This would give formula-fed babies some of the same advantages as breastfed babies when it comes to a healthy gut.

This latest study was conducted by a team led by Professor David A. Mills, PhD, the Shields Endowed Chair in Dairy Food Science.