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Providing Good Bacteria to Newborns Fights Disease

Providing Good Bacteria to Newborns Fights Disease- New research is showing that a specific probiotic bacteria is key to restoring a baby’s gut to its protective, natural state and providing a foundation for life-long optimal health. The use of probiotics has been shown to be a contributing factor to gut health and recent research shows that the infant gut microbiome plays a critical role in healthy immune and metabolic development, as well as meeting babies’ dietary needs.

The bacteria in a baby’s microbiome are passed down from their mom at birth. For generations, one strain called B. infantis dominated the infant gut. However, modern medical practices such as increased antibiotic use and C-sections have led to a microbial imbalance in the infant gut and a loss of this key bacteria. This imbalance has been associated with a range of chronic health issues including allergies, asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes and a host of immunological disorders.

Now, recently published data shows for the first time that supplementation with activated B. infantis can completely transform the gut environment in babies that are fed breast milk. Along with restoring a healthy gut microbiome, the study results show that the supplementation significantly reduced levels of potentially harmful bacteria linked to disease in infants born either through natural or C-section delivery.

I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Mark Underwood, Chief Pediatric Neonatologist at UC Davis to discuss the study results and how the activated form of this beneficial bacteria can be helpful for babies and how providing good bacteria to newborns fights disease. Here’s the interview


Providing Good Bacteria to Newborns Fights Disease

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What is the “good” bacteria that nine out of ten babies are missing and why?

Pediactric Neonatologist Dr. Mark Underwood – So what we’ve been studying over the last decade here is a particular kind of bacteria – this one is called B. infantis. Two things I think folks will be interested in…1. In developed countries, like the US, the numbers of these healthy bacteria in the intestines of even healthy babies has been decreasing over the last 100 years, and 2. The other thing that is interesting about this particular bacteria is that it has the capacity to consume human milk, particulary components of human milk…so the puzzle is why would there be fewer and fewer of these healthy even at a time when breast feeding rates are increasing in the United States.


Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What is the result of this missing good bacteria?

Pediactric Neonatologist Dr. Mark Underwood – The reason of course that’s important is we’re seeing increases particulary over the last 50-60 years in diseases we know are associated with the composition of the bacteria in the intestines. So, diseases like diabetes, and obesity, and allergies to eczema, asthma, and Chrone’s disease…all of these dramatic increases that we see seem to be related to changes in the intestinal bacteria.

Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What can parents do about it? What suggestions do you have so moms could begin providing good bacteria to newborns fights disease

Pediactric Neonatologist Dr. Mark Underwood – Well, this study that we just published I think gives us some interesting insights there. What we did here is we randomly assigned healthy, term, breastfed infants to one of two groups. One group got this new probiotic that contains the B. infantis, and the other group did not. And, the striking thing was we only gave these babies the probiotic for 21 days. So, they started on day of life seven, they went to day of life 28 and they stopped, and then we kept following along for the weeks and months afterward. Historically, people have been studying probiotics for a long time now and most probiotics in the past have been chosen because they’re easy to grow, because they grow in yogurt, or because they’re easy to manufacture. This probiotic, we chose it really for two reasons…1. of all the many different probiotics we’ve studied, this one seems to be the best consumer of human milk products or components, and 2. it has some very nice anti-inflammatory sorts of properties. So, when we gave these babies 21 days of the probiotic, they became colonized with those healthy bacteria – that’s not a big surprise. The surprise was even when we stopped it, even weeks and months later, so long as these babies were getting mom’s milk their intestinal community of bacteria was dominated by these healthy B. infantis in numbers we’ve not seen before. So, it’s really a kind of exciting breakthrough.



Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Where can parents learn more?

Pediactric Neonatologist Dr. Mark Underwood – There’s a link to the paper, the study at a website called So, that would be a good place to start. I think looking at that paper and discussing it with their health care provider would be a smart way to go.

For more info on Providing Good Bacteria to Newborns, visit

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