15 February 2016

Breast is not best, breast is the one and only

As soon as a baby is born, he receives his first germs from his Mum. The way babies are born nowadays, naturally or by C-section, has a massive influence on their initial microbial population, with a risk of long-term consequences such as obesity, asthma, and allergies for babies born by C-section.

pregnant plus child

During pregnancy, a mother prepares her gut and vagina flora to pass on to baby. The specific germs to be passed on are dedicated to milk digestion and gut immunity training (more about this here and soon to be available here). It becomes worrying therefore that when a child is born by C-section, his first germs are those of his mother’s skin, which are not really super good at helping milk digestion.

When his wife encountered difficulties giving birth to his child, Dr Rob Knight, a specialist in microbiota, didn’t take any chances: after his child was born by emergency C-section, he smeared him with his wife’s vagina secretions.

For those who are a bit grossed at the idea, there is another fantastic tool that women have been equipped with to ensure that baby gets all he needs: breast milk!
Breast milk is ideally (and the only one) conceived for baby, and that includes having a specific set of germs to pass on to baby - Do you want to tweet this?
Germs that will play a role in both nutrition, intestinal tolerance, and immunity. In fact, when looking at mum’s first secreted milk, called colostrum, it is actually full of components to shape baby’s immunity, and less for nutrition.

Breast milk is a savant mix of pre- and probiotics, along with other components, that will help mum provide her child with that famous passive immunity:

Probiotics bacteria by definition are friendly bacteria that have a positive effect. Breast milk's include Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L. gasseri, L. lactis; Leuconostoc mesenteroides, and Bifidobacteria.

Prebiotics are molecules that help our bacteria. In breast milk, they are Lactoferrin, medium-chain saturated fatty acids, long-chain unsaturated fatty acids, lysozyme, or oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharides are forms of sugar that friendly bacteria love. For example, high levels of prebiotics correlates with high levels of Bifidobacterium, an excellent infection protector.

For so many women who encounter lactation issues or other breastfeeding difficulties and for whom the need for formula is their only viable choice, there are just so many more who have forgotten how natural breastfeeding is and are not encouraged enough to pursue it.

Do you think breast is best or really the only one good?
I’d love to read your thoughts and experience, feel free to leave me a comment.

I used this scientific article as my source: Parigi SM, et al. Front Immunol 2015; 19: 415.


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