Our gut microbiome is teeming with bugs, in fact, our gut microbiome houses 10 times more microbial cells than human cells. Research into the impact our gut microbiome has on our health has flourished in recent years with a smorgasbord of information demonstrating disruption of our delicate gut ecosystem has the potential to cause a plethora of conditions.
An area chock full of amazing research is the use of probiotics in infants to prevent or treat common childhood complaints namely colic, eczema and allergies. The three main types identified during breastfeeding and prior to weaning are B. infantis, B. longum, B. breve.
Gut Bacteria Most Predominant in Infants
During the first few hours of life colonisation begins however, a newborn babies gut microbiome is unstable until breastfeeding is complete. Once breastfeeding has ceased a child’s gut will begin to resemble an adult microbiome. One of the earliest species identified within newborn babies guts is the Bifidobacterium species. The three main types identified during breastfeeding and prior to weaning are B. infantis, B. longum, & B. breve.
Bifidobacteria plays an important role within the gastrointestinal tract and can safely and effectively colonise the gut. In a 2006 double-blind, placebo-controlled study, B. lactis was found to re-establish a balanced gut microbiome composition in preterm and full-term newborns and toddlers.
What Impacts a Newborns Gut Flora?
Mode of delivery
Type of feeding (breast milk v formula milk)
Antibiotic use in newborns
Use of probiotics during pregnancy
Antibiotic use during pregnancy
What are the differences between Caesarean and Formula-Fed Infants?
Caesarean babies do not come into contact with maternal microflora increasing their risk for an Clostridium infection which can cause severe diarrhoea. Breast milk contains Bifidobacterium species so although a C-section baby may not receive maternal microflora if they’re breast fed studies have demonstrated Bifidobacterium does colonise the gut lowering their count of Clostridium.
Infants fed formula and breast milk also demonstrated colonisation of Bifidobacterium, however the number of bacteria inhabit the gut was lower.
Suggested Probiotic Intervention
Vaginal Birth & Breast Fed
Vaginal Birth & Breast Fed & Formula Fed
Caesarean Birth & Breast Fed
Caesarean Birth & Breast Fed & Formula Fed
Caesarean Birth & Formula Fed
Colic is characterised by a flushed face, drawing up of the legs, excessive flatulence, and crying for more than 3 hours a day for a period of 3 weeks. An infant with colic has been shown to produce more gas-forming bugs than infants without colic. B.breve and B. longum were the strains found to be most beneficial for the treatment of infantile colic. It could theorised that L.rhamnosus could be beneficial as studies have shown these levels to be lower in infants with colic in comparison to healthy infants.
Eczema & Allergies
Atopy (children with one or more of the following - eczema, hay fever and/or asthma) amongst children is on the rise. Atopy is the over activation of our immune system to a substance within the environment. Atopic children have demonstrated gut bacteria that resembles that of an adult. Specifically, they have been shown to have lower levels of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus and higher levels of clostridium – linked to severe diarrhoea. A connection between improving Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus has been put forward as a potential therapeutic treatment to help with these conditions.
As atopy involves an inflammatory response of our immune system, probiotics have been demonstrated to reduce the allergic response by decreasing inflammation.
A double-blind placebo-controlled study conducted in 2009 concluded caesarean-delivered children whose mothers were given B.breve during the last month of pregnancy reduced their allergy risk. Another study found that B. lactis and Lactobacillus rhamnosus reduced symptoms of atopic eczema two months after treatment.
Overview of probiotic treatment for colic, eczema & allergies
Spectrumceuticals make a practitioner quality probiotic free of gluten and dairy for infants and children with the strains mentioned in this article. The product is called Spectrumceuticals Pro6-Infant.