What are probiotics and why might babies need them?

What are probiotics and why might babies need them?

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live in our digestive tract. They help keep our immune systems functioning properly, are essential for digestion, assimilation and elimination of the foods we eat and have been found to protect against food allergies. Babies surprisingly are born with a sterile digestive tract but healthy bacteria starts colonizing immediately at birth. Their first exposure to probiotics is through delivery when they gulp some of mom’s flora in the vaginal canal. They continue obtaining these healthy microorganisms through skin-to-skin contact and from breastfeeding.

There are certain instances when infants benefit from additional sources of probiotics. If mom received antibiotics during labor or delivery then her own flora would have been destroyed leaving little to pass on to her child. If baby was delivered by cesarean birth the healthy bacteria would not have been shared from mother to baby or if mom is unable or chooses not to breastfeed then the baby would not be receiving the amounts of probiotics he/she normally would. In these instances babies can benefit from an additional dose of healthy bacteria to help colonize and establish their immune and digestive systems.

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