Infants born by Cesarean section (C-section) experience delayed microbial colonization and-section babies acquire bacterial members resembling those of the skin. These variations and altered microbial diversity associated with delivery mode have been detected in children up to seven years of age. Children born by C-section are at increased risk for the development of immune disorders from somewhat impaired immune regulation. Not all autoimmune conditions, but especially those with a certain relation to the gut, are influenced by C-section.
Scientists suggest that the infant’s first contact with pioneer bacteria could influence subsequent gut maturation, metabolic and immunologic programming, and consequently, short- and long-term health status. A number of maternal factors are responsible for the establishment and colonization of gut microbiota in infants, including:
- The conditions surrounding the prenatal period
- Time and mode of delivery
- Mother’s age
- Smoking status
- Household milieu
- Socioeconomic status
- Antibiotic use
- Other environmental factors
Early exposure impacting the intestinal microbiota is associated with the development of childhood diseases that may persist into adulthood—such as:
- Allergic disorders (atopic dermatitis or itchy skin, rhinitis or runny nose)
- Chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases
- Blood sugar irregularity
How Many Gut Microbes Do We Have?
The maturation of the human immune system and its regulation after birth is largely driven by exposure to microbes. The gastrointestinal tract is the largest source of microbial exposure, as the human gut microbiome contains more than 10 trillion bacteria, which is 10 times the number of cells in the human body. Several studies in recent years have shown differences in the composition of the gut microbiota in children who are exposed to different conditions before, during, and early after birth.
The gut bacteria play an important role in human health by promoting intestinal homeostasis, stimulating the development and maturation of the immune system, protecting against pathogens, digesting fibrous food materials through fermentation and harvesting nutrients.
An alteration in the gut microbiota has been associated with a series of complications, including:
- Inflammation of the bowel
- Leaky gut
- Bowel disorders
- Blood sugar regulation
- Respiratory difficulties
Although there are discrepancies in the literature, data analysis over time has suggested an association between the nature of the initial gut microbiota colonization or microbial dysbiosis (colonization by bad bacteria) and a number of disease conditions in infancy and later in life.
Factors Affecting Colonization of Gut Microbiota in Infants or Children
Until more studies are done in this new area of microbiology, scientists debate whether an altered microbiome causes particular health issues or alternatively, the health issue affects the microbiome. There are numerous factors that can affect both. This is an exciting area of science with so much being discovered and to learn.
Meanwhile, like our ancestors from many cultures, we take in microbes in the form of fermented vegetables (pickles, kimchee, sauerkraut) and fermented milk and soy products (cheese, yogurt, tofu, miso). Before industrialization and pasteurization, many of these fermented vegetable products were healthy sources of microbiota to inhabit our microbiome.
What Can We Do To Improve Our Gut Microbiata?
No matter how we originated (via regular delivery or C-section), we can help ensure that our gastrointestinal tracts stay healthy by eating naturally fermented foods and maintaining healthy lifestyles. In today’s environment, we all need help to keep a balanced diet, and DIGESTIVE+++ provides an effective and convenient solution.
DIGESTIVE+++ contains probiotics, which are described by the World Health Organization as microbes that when consumed show health benefits. Prebiotics, as stated by the same organization, are ingredients that remain undigested until they reach the colon and then provide the right nutrition for beneficial microbes in the colon.
DIGESTIVE+++ contains effective microbes and true prebiotics, as well as the full range of enzymes to break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats for optimal assimilation and absorption. Some of the bacteria in the gut also use food nutrients to grow and colonize in harmony with the body. Since our gut microbiome works in harmony or disharmony (called dysbiosis) with our body and affects so many physiological systems, taking DIGESTIVE+++ is the sensible and cost-effective way to maintain GI and overall health.