Baby Probiotics: What Do I Need To Know?
- May 29, 2019
Live probiotics are naturally found in mom's breastmilk (1). While there are many common strains of probiotics found in breastmilk, it is amazing to discover that not every strain is found in every breast milk sample. In other words, your breastmilk will have a different probiotic composition than your best friend's breast milk.
WHAT ARE PROBIOTICS?Probiotics are a popular health trend these days, but they have been used for thousands of years. Foods like yogurts, kombucha, and kimchi naturally have probiotics.Probiotics are actually alive. They are live microorganisms (often bacteria or yeast) that offer a benefit to the host…in this case, your baby! So, when you are guzzling that kombucha, you are actually drinking live bacteria. Those bacteria should colonize your gut (essentially set up their home in your gut) and start doing things that make you healthier in some way. Certain probiotics can offer different health benefits. Some strains help support a healthy immune system, while others help keep bowel movements regular (among other roles). So, if you are choosing a probiotic supplement, you want to choose your strain wisely.Factors that can affect a baby's microbiota (composition of microorganisms in baby's gut) include:
- Baby born via c-section vs. vaginal birth (babies born via c-section have fewer beneficial probiotics vs. babies born vaginally) (2)
- Formula feeding vs. breastfeeding (breastfed babies have more biodiversity in their gut) (3)
- Antibiotic exposure (4)
WHICH PROBIOTICS ARE IMPORTANT FOR BABIES?Certain probiotic strains play certain roles. While most probiotics are important for different reasons, the three strains that parents should focus on are Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus reuteri, and Bifidobacterium infantis.
Lactobacillus rhamnosusLactobacillus rhamnosus is one of the most commonly used probiotics. Some benefits of ensuring baby is getting enough lactobacillus rhamnosus:
- Helps strengthen the immune system in early infancy to help reduce the risk of developing an allergic manifestation like atopic dermatitis (eczema). (5)
- Promotes digestive health (6)
- May reduce the incidence of ADHD and /or Asperger's Syndrome. (7)
- May reduce duration of diarrhea if baby is exposed to rotavirus or is receiving antibiotics (8, 9)
- May reduce the chances of baby developing diaper rash by decreasing the pH of baby's “number twos”
Lactobacillus reuteriLactobacillus reuteri is another probiotic that has been studied in infants. The most noteworthy studies suggest that providing colicky babies with adequate lactobacillus reuteri daily for at least a week may reduce crying time by 50% (10)! Not every mother has lactobacillus reuteri present in her breastmilk, so supplementation may be beneficial-specifically if mom wants to reduce the risk of her baby presenting with symptoms of colic (and what parent doesn't want to reduce the risk of colicky symptoms?!?!).Other roles lactobacillus reuteri may have in babies according to the data include:
- May reduce spit-up frequency in babies (11, 12)
- With rehydration therapy, may help treat acute diarrhea frequency and duration in some studies. This is good to keep in mind if baby is being provided with antibiotics. (13, 14)