28. Feb 2019

Probiotics help child’s immune system

A new-born receives important defensive substances via mother’s milk. A study now proves that a child’s immune system becomes even better if the mother takes probiotics. They can even prevent childhood obesity.

It was presumed in the past that mother’s milk is germ-free. However, this is by no means correct. In fact, quite the contrary is true: Mother’s milk is packed full of health promoting microorganisms. Studies have shown that the “sap of life” contains various bacterial strains. According to research, the tiny organisms play an important role: They not only colonise the babies’ digestive tract, they also contribute to the maturation of the child’s immune system. In the last days of a pregnancy and during the nursing period, a part of the bacteria from the mother’s gut is transported into the mammary glands by monocytes (a type of white blood cells, the body’s immune defence army). Thus, the child not only receives the mother’s antibodies via the mother’s milk, it also receives her gut bacteria. It is therefore self-explanatory that a deliberate enrichment of the mother’s gut flora with bifidobacteria and lactococci would not only have a positive effect on the pregnant or nursing mother, it would also have a positive effect on her baby.

Protection against mastitis

Unfortunately, not every mother has an optimal gut colonisation. If she is suffering from dysbiosis, an excess of harmful bacteria in the gut, then this can lead to mastitis (an inflammation of the glands which produce mother’s milk). This condition is a reason why many women must stop nursing; in part because the bacteria causing the infection would otherwise be transmitted to the child. The disease, which can oftentimes be very painful, is treated with antibiotics, local therapy, and prolactin inhibitors. The administration of probiotics during the nursing period could on the one hand ward off mastitis by balancing the gut flora and on the other hand prevent or at least limit the number of harmful pathogens which are passed on to the baby via the mammary glands.

Probiotics as a protection for mother and child

Over the counter multispecies probiotics are a sensible option to protect the future mother and her baby from inflammatory processes and the transfer of undesirable germs during the nursing period. The products contain bifidobacteria and lactococci. These resemble the beneficial bacterial colonisation of mother’s milk and so facilitate an immunological balance between Th1- and Th2-cells. Th1-cells regulate inflammatory processes in the body and are amongst other things responsible for the defence against pathogens. Th2-cells assist in the development of B-lymphocytes which in turn are important for the production of antibodies.

Mother’s milk protects from the start

If the mother’s gut flora and therefore also the mother’s milk is “enlivened” with health-promoting bacteria then it has protective effect on the child. The following has been scientifically proven: The risk for childhood obesity sinks, the maturation of the infantile immune system is supported and the risk of later diseases, especially infections and allergies, is reduced. Nursing, with or without enrichment, even has a positive effect on babies’ brain development. Finally, it contributes to the bonding between mother and child. This is because during the nursing process both the mother and child release the hormone oxytocin – the hormone which establishes trust and a feeling of safety.

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