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Home > Articles > Is Your Intestinal Flora Good Enough For Your Baby?

Whether you are planning to get pregnant soon or are already in early pregnancy, did you realise that your baby will get your gut flora?

Bearing in mind that around 80% of the immune system stems from the gut, this vital area needs to be populated with all the right micro-organisms to help it function optimally. TheEarly Pregnancy - Is Your Gut Flora Good Enough For Your Baby? balance between the beneficial bacteria and the pathogenic or bad bacteria is critical. This also applies to babies, whose immune systems strengthen from the moment they enter into the world. So, if you are planning to get pregnant or already in early pregnancy and want to give your little one a head start in life, it may be time to think gut flora.

During pregnancy, your baby’s gut will be sterile in your uterus but as he or she passes through the birth canal during childbirth, some of your microflora will be ingested by your baby. This is the natural starting point for your baby’s own microflora to develop. Breast-feeding will further increase your baby’s gut flora but to a lesser degree and will be a direct reflection of yours.

If your baby is born by Caesarian section, recent research demonstrates that C-section babies at Day 3 of life have a very different gut flora to babies, who had a natural birth. Certain strains of beneficial bacterial were shown to be missing. This problem can be addressed by The Baby & Children Natural Heath Clinic in London.

Now, say for example that you have had antibiotic therapy on several occasions; have you considered the fact that this will have had a seriously detrimental effect on the balance of the bacteria and also the yeast in your gut? Antibiotics kill the beneficial bacteria in the gut and this allows the pathogenic (bad) bacteria to colonise significantly. Loss of beneficial bacteria also makes way for yeast overgrowth, which can itself lead to a lot of health problems. Did you know that the roots of yeast can actually penetrate the gut lining? This overgrowth causes inflammation of the intestinal lining, which can lead to increased gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome) and allergies. Perhaps you suffer with IBS type symptoms? Like most women, you are probably putting a lot of thought into doing your very best for your new baby. However, this is an area that is so often overlooked as most women don’t realise the implications. However, as explained later, it can easily be rectified before pregnancy, in early pregnancy or even in the later stages of pregnancy.

If you have been on the oral contraceptive pill, your gut flora will be also be out of kilter. This group of drugs has a devastating effect on the gut flora, making a woman more prone to yeast overgrowth (Candida).

You may well have a history of thrush. This may indicate that you have an overgrowth of yeast (Candida) in your gut. If this were the case, you would be passing this imbalance on to your baby. An imbalanced gut flora will hamper your little one’s immune system and predispose him or her to infection. It’s very common for small children to get frequent ear infections and other infections, even though they are pre-school. Some babies have digestive problems right from the start and this presents as colic. How many times have you heard people say that digestive problems are “in the family”? This is so often down to the fact that a new-born baby inherits its mother’s gut flora.

I am often asked to treat babies suffering with severe colic and eczema; and children with recurrent ear infections and recurrent tonsillitis. So often the mother has digestive problems and tests on her reveal that she does indeed have problems with her gut flora. The vicious cycle of antibiotic therapy must be broken, where possible, and the immune system strengthened along with the gut flora. This approach usually gets the best results. 

And it’s not just a child’s immune and digestive functions, which may be impaired by the mother’s gut flora. It has been discovered that the mothers of children with learning difficulties, including autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia, all have gut flora problems (gut dysbiosis). This has been passed on to their child and the result is that the by-products/toxins produced by the pathogenic bacteria and yeast in the child’s gut, when they feed, are crossing the blood-brain barrier and affecting their behaviour and learning. This most interesting research has been carried out by Dr Natasha McBride, whose interest in the subject came about, when she discovered that her own son was autistic. Her pioneering work has shown that by rebalancing the gut flora, that the severity of autism may be reduced. In fact, her son is now at the time of writing in mainstream school.

Your diet also dictates what kind of gut flora you have. For example, a diet rich in sugary and processed carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, biscuits, cake and pastries) will promote the growth of pathogenic bacteria and also yeast overgrowth. This is why a healthy diet pre-pregnancy and during early pregnancy and late pregnancy is so important.

So what can you do to ensure you pass on a healthy gut flora to your baby?  

The first step is to look at your diet. Is there room for improvement? Sugary and processed carbohydrates as mentioned above should not be part of your diet. It would also be wise to take a therapeutic strength probiotic, the kind that are prescribed by health practitioners. Many probiotics do not have the variety of strains of beneficial bacteria to make a difference. Others are poor in their delivery so you don’t actually get what you’re paying for. A good probiotic will help to rebalance the gut flora, cutting back the bad bacteria and yeast to redress the balance. The benefits of doing this are not limited to passing on great gut flora to baby. You will also feel much healthier and energised as your digestive function improves and you are able to take up more nutrients from all that good food you are eating.

If you have a history of antibiotic use, have suffered with IBS or other digestive problems; or have been on the contraceptive pill, it would be worth considering being tested for both yeast and bacterial overgrowth, particularly if you suffer from bloating or constipation. You will need a consultation first so that a full case history can be taken. The tests are carried out at a medical laboratory in Central London. If the results are positive, a herbal prescription and a special diet can be given to help rebalance your gut flora and get it ready for baby.

f you would like a consultation and non-invasive tests to ensure your gut flora is in tip top condition for your baby, call for an appointment to see Deborah.


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