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Building an Infant’s Healthy Gut Biome: Breastfeeding and Other Alternatives

Building an Infant’s Healthy Gut Biome: Breastfeeding and Other Alternatives

An episode of Law and Order, called Mother’s Milk, was a cautionary tale about what happens when a breastfeeding consultant goes completely over-the-top and insists that a young mother only breastfeed her newborn. When the child won’t take to the breast, the result is tragic.

Sometimes a new mom cannot breastfeed successfully. We want to remind her that she can raise a healthy, happy child on formula; just work with your pediatrician to determine baby’s best options.

That said, research shows breastfeeding is a powerful way for an infant to get nutrients essential for developing strong bones and healthy organs. And new data reported in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that breastfeeding is also a great way to make sure your infant develops a healthy gut biome.

In the 12-month study of 104 moms and infants, researchers determined that during their first month of life infants received about 28 percent of their gut bacteria from breast milk and around 10 percent from mom’s skin. That’s their start of a healthy immune system—and sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy regulation of metabolism, glucose, and digestion.

Tip: For mom’s using formula, allow your infant to have frequent mouth contact with your skin. Investigate the option of donor breast milk (never unregulated over the Internet!), and ask your doc about using use formulas fortified with prebiotics and probiotics, especially Lactobacillus GG and Bifidobacteria (you might want to alternate days). Plus, use a formula containing at least 32mg per bottle of DHA omega-3. 

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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