Why Every Baby Needs Infant Probiotics
Amy Myers, MD
Amy Myers, M.D. is a functional medicine physician, trained and certified by The Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Myers earned her Doctor of Medicine at the LSU Health Science Center, and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Myers retired from her functional medicine clinic, Austin UltraHealth, where she served thousands of patients, to empower those who were failed by conventional medicine. Shes a 2x New York Times bestselling author, and the founder and CEO of the health & lifestyle e-commerce brand, Amy Myers MD®.
As a parent, you want the very best for your child, and setting your baby up for lifelong optimal health is one of the best gifts you can ever provide for her.
By starting life with a healthy gut and thriving immune system, your child will be on the path to optimal health and wellness, including healthy skin, digestion, and ideal inflammatory and immune responses.
By now you likely know about the importance of taking probiotics for supporting a healthy gut and strong immune system. Its something I recommend everyone take and its part of my wellness essentials for children and adults.
However, did you know that newborns up to 2 years of age have specific bacteria in their microbiome and that they require a different type and specific strains of bacteria? Thats why its a key first step to get your child on a gut-healthy routine designed for this specific stage of her development.
What Role Probiotic Supplements Play For Formula
For formula-fed babies, there are options for formulas that have been fortified with probiotics along with all the other nutrients your little one needs. The inclusion of probiotics in baby formulas not only reflects the natural contents of breast milk but also helps to promote a healthy balance of bad and good bacteria in your babys gut. These probiotics work alongside your baby’s microflora to improve your baby’s wellbeing. As an added advantage, a probiotic enriched formula may help to prevent or treat tummy problems.
Infant Formula Supplemented With Probiotics
European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Committee on Nutrition published a systematic review of studies assessing the safety and health effects of probiotic-supplemented infant formulae. No conclusive data were obtained from ESPGHANs analysis of infant and follow-on formulae due to considerable variability in the type and dose of probiotics used and supplementation periods.
Formulae supplemented with probiotics do not raise safety concerns with regard to growth and adverse effects . There are sufficient data supporting the safety of probiotics for infants older than 6 months. However, data on the use of probiotic supplementation in infants younger than 4 months are more limited. Studies in breastfed infants younger than 6 months who received a formula supplemented with either Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716 or Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG revealed that formulae were well tolerated and had no adverse effects on growth either during the study period or at 35 years of age . A recent study revealed that growth and food tolerance improved in premature infants > 30 weeks of gestational age fed with a formula supplemented with Saccharomyces boulardii, and no adverse effects were detected .
3.1.2 Prevention and treatment of infant disorders
. Thus, fecal Bifidobacterium breve concentrations in infants fed with a fortified formula have been documented to be similar to those found in breastfed infants.
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Do Breastmilk Fed Babies Need Probiotics
Breast milk is considered a functional food meaning it contains all the nutrientslike probiotics and prebiotics need for a healthy life. But probiotics levels in breast milk may be on the decline. Studies report that breastfed infants in industrialized societies have been found to have lower levels of probiotics in their GI system. This reduction in probiotics is thought to be related to factors such as the rise of c-section births and antibiotic use.
Probiotics play an important role in creating an undesirable environment for potential pathogens. It has been posited that this lack of probiotics amongst infants’ microflora in industrialized societies has contributed to an increase in inflammatory diseases like autoimmune disease, allergies, and asthma.
New research has confirmed that supplying breast milk-fed babies with probiotics can play an important role in digestive system health and it may help to counteract this trend towards probiotic decline!
Why Might An Infant Need Additional Probiotics
The digestive system of an infant is delicate and certain experiences, such as the use of antibiotics during delivery, can wipe out the healthy bacteria in an infants gut. An imbalance of good and bad bacteria can cause a number of symptoms that can be distressing to both parents and baby:
- Bowel issues including diarrhea and constipation
- Asthma and allergies
- Acne and eczema
- Upper respiratory infections
Probiotics serve to assist the body in remedying and/or preventing these symptoms by activating the immune system.
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Do Not Use These Waters For Formula:
- Softened water which is high in sodium.
- Mineral water which is high in sodium and other minerals.
- Carbonated water: Carbonation and added flavours are not appropriate for babies. Carbonated water may also have added salt.
- Waters in areas that have naturally high levels of fluoride .
The safety of the following types of water for formula is not known so do NOT use:
- Purified water.
- Specialty nursery or baby waters.
Note: If you do not have a safe water source, use ready-to-feed liquid formula.
How Much Does Baby Formula Cost
There’s no getting around it: Formula can be expensive. You can expect to shell out between $1,200 and $1,500 on it before your baby’s first birthday. That breaks down to around $100 to $125 a month.
Prices vary depending on the type of formula you use , and specialized formulas can be up to 20 percent more expensive than the standard, iron-fortified, cow’s-milk variety.
The least expensive option is powdered formula that you mix yourself. Moving up the cost scale is liquid concentrate and finally at the top of the formula pyramid ready-to-feed formula.
Looking for a way to keep cost down but not ready to give up on convenience? One approach is to splurge on ready-to-feed formula during your baby’s first few weeks when sleep is hard to come by and the last thing you want to do is measure and mix at 2 a.m. Once your little one is sleeping more and your feeding routine is well-established, you may feel more up to the task of making bottles, so you can switch to one of the kinds you have to whip up yourself.
Another way to save on formula? Try registering on the manufacturer’s website for coupons and rebate checks. Buying generic formula will also save you some money.
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New Infant Formula Ingredients Boost Babies’ Immunity By Feeding Their Gut Bacteria
- University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
- Adding prebiotic ingredients to infant formula helps colonize the newborn’s gut with a stable population of beneficial bacteria, and probiotics enhance immunity in formula-fed infants, two studies report.
Adding prebiotic ingredients to infant formula helps colonize the newborn’s gut with a stable population of beneficial bacteria, and probiotics enhance immunity in formula-fed infants, two University of Illinois studies report.
“The beneficial bacteria that live in a baby’s intestine are all-important to an infant’s health, growth, and ability to fight off infections,” said Kelly Tappenden, a U of I professor of nutrition and gastrointestinal physiology. “Breast-fed babies acquire this protection naturally. Formula-fed infants get sick more easily because the bacteria in their gut are always changing.”
The idea is to make formula more like breast milk by promoting the sorts of intestinal bacteria that live in breast-fed babies’ intestines, she added.
Prebiotics are carbohydrates that resist digestion by human enzymes and stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Probiotics are actual live bacteria that are beneficial to intestinal health, she said.
Infants have a special need for stimulation of their gut microbiota because they are born with a sterile intestine, Tappenden said.
Probiotics And The Breastfed Infant
Probiotics are sometimes referred to as beneficial bacteria. Bacteria, you say? Yes. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi, in and on our bodies than there are human cells . However, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body’s mass due to their small size, in comparison to human cells . The world of microorganisms that exists within the human body is called the microbiome. Microbes exist in nearly every part of the human body, from the gut and digestive tract, to the nose and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, and even on the skin. Some of these microorganisms serve an essential purpose, helping us to maintain a healthy system by helping to digest food and absorb nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable, and synthesizing vitamin B and vitamin K. Other organisms are present in and on our bodies normally, and an overgrowth of these organisms can cause unpleasant symptoms and illness.
Examples of probiotics include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus GG, Lactobacillus plantarum, Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium bifidum, etc. The National Institute of Health currently has a project underway to identify and map the human microbiome .
References1. Arthur, B. & Stein, R. . Exploring the invisible universe that lives on and in us. Retrieved on February 23, 2014 from
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How To Give Baby Powdered Probiotics
- Following the dosage suggestions on the particular product, add powdered probiotics to breast milk or formula.
- Alternatively, you can put the powdered probiotics directly on your breasts before feeding. To do so, apply my DIY nipple cream, then sprinkle the probiotic powder directly on top.
- When baby is eating solids, mix powdered probiotics into babys water cup or food.
Conflict Of Interest Statement
The study was financially supported by Arla Foods amba, Arla Innovation Center, Skejby, Denmark and Arla Foods Ingredients, Viby, Denmark. Arla Foods amba provided the experimental and standard formulas. BC is an employee of Arla Foods amba and AH is an employee at Arla Foods Ingredients. XL, YP, ZL, HS, BL, and OH have received honoraria and/or travel grants or research grants from Arla Foods.
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Are Probiotics Good For Baby
Modern Pregnancy. Urban Parenting. WellRoundedNY.com
While shopping for baby’s meals and snacks, you’ve probably noticed that probiotics have infiltrated baby’s food aisle. Thought of as the good bacteria in our body, probiotics can confer health benefits. For our little ones specifically, they can do as much as reducing colic and eczema, but can they actually make our babies healthier? That’s the million-dollar question that research is still trying to get at.
Different strains of probiotics serve different purposes. Doctors, for example, often suggest that the two most commonly known groups — Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium — promote digestive health. Though we need more research to confirm this claim, these probiotics are believed to help move foods through your gut, ultimately assisting digestion and bringing relief to people who suffer from diarrhea, lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome. We still know very little as to how probiotics work and what kind of health problems each strain can address. There’s also very little scientific evidence that they benefit anything other than the digestive system. So what do we know so far? Here’s the lowdown on probiotics and how they can benefit your baby’s health.
Your Baby Has Acute Gastroenteritis
Acute gastroenteritis is defined as diarrhea or vomiting that lasts more than seven days. You should always talk to your doctor if your baby is experiencing these symptoms, and there is some evidence that probiotics can help, according to Kaufmann. The effect is that probiotics compete with enteric pathogens, there are then less nutrients for these pathogens, and probiotics increase immune response, she says.
One systematic review of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials found that the use of probiotics compared with placebo was associated with a significantly lower risk of diarrhea lasting more than three daysSzajewska H, Mrukowicz JZ. Probiotics in the treatment and prevention of acute infectious diarrhea in infants and children: a systematic review of published randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2001. 33 2:S17-25. .
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Your Baby Is In Daycare And You Want To Decrease Their Chance Of Getting Sick
Babies and toddlers who are around other kids in a daycare setting tend to get sick more frequently than children who stay at home. If you want to decrease your babys chances of getting sick, Kaufmann says probiotics may help, citing a study that found a decrease in incidence of rhinopharyngitis for children in daycare when they drank a fermented yogurt drinkProdeus A, Niborski V, Schrezenmeir J, Gorelov A, Shcherbina A, Rumyantsev A. Fermented Milk Consumption and Common Infections in Children Attending Day-Care Centers: A Randomized Trial. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2016 63:534-543. .
Natural Exposure To Good Bacteria For Infants
The gut microbiome is a very fragile internal ecosystem, and it is well established that the groundwork for a robust gut starts at birth.
There are three main ways that an infants microbiome is populated during and shortly after birth:
Supplementing A Breastfed Baby
If you breastfeed and your baby needs more calories, you will need to give a supplement. The best option is breast milk. This can be expressed by hand and/or by pump.
Giving formula to a breastfed baby can decrease your breast milk supply. Supplementing with formula may lead to ending breastfeeding before you had planned to stop. It can be hard to restart breastfeeding after having stopped.
Here is a list of supplements in order of what to try first if available:
Most babies who drink formula do best with a cow milk-based formula. Specialized formulas should only be used if your health care provider recommends them. Many parents use a bottle to give a supplement, but this not always the best method of feeding a supplement to a baby. Babies who are fed by bottle may find it harder to breastfeed. You can feed your baby a supplement using one or more of the following methods. With the help of a knowledgeable professional consider a:
- Cup or spoon.
- Lactation aid which uses a tube at your breast.
- Finger feeder with a tube attached to your clean finger.
- More specialized feeding devices.
Why Might My Baby Need A Probiotic Supplement What Are Some Of The Symptoms
Babies born by caesarean section and/or are bottle-fed tend to not obtain the same gut microflora from their mother in order to inoculate their gut. This can increase the likelihood of atopic conditions including asthma, eczema and allergies. Furthermore, if the mothers own microflora is out of balance this can increase the need for digestive support. A healthy microbiota is essential for healthy immunity, therefore supporting the health of gut bacteria helps to support the immune system. Some babies with digestive conditions such as colic may also have reduced gut flora.
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Baby Formula With Special Additives
Some baby formulas have extra ingredients added to them to make them more like breastmilk. But this doesnt necessarily mean those ingredients will work in the same way as breastmilk in your babys body.
Here are some common extra ingredients added to baby formula, with information about whether theyre likely to do your baby any extra good:
- LCPs: these are important for brain and nerve development. But theres no clear evidence that babies can absorb ingredients like LCPs when theyre added to formula. Formula with added LCPs might be helpful for formula-fed premature babies brain development.
- Betacarotene: this is a source of vitamin A and anti-oxidants. Most formulas already have added vitamin A and anti-oxidants. Theres no real evidence that betacarotene formulas are better for your baby.
- Prebiotics and probiotics: these can help formula-fed babies grow healthy bacteria in their bowels. The bacteria might help your baby have softer poo and less nappy rash. It might also help reduce the chance of gastroenteritis.
Also note that these formulas might be more expensive than other formulas.