An infant’s gut microbiome can be disrupted by several factors including delivery mode, feeding method and antibiotic usage.
The mode of delivery can impact the establishment of a good microbiome. Children born through C-section often have lower levels of beneficial bacteria, compared to those born vaginally. This has been linked to C-sectioned infants having a higher risk of developing allergic diseases (including hay fever, eczema and food allergies) later in life.
Human breastmilk plays a role in immune system development due to the various nutrients, bioactive substances and immunological components that can promote the development of an infant’s gut microbiome and help train the immune system. When comparing breast-fed and formula-fed infants, formula-fed infants often have a lower diversity of gut microbes.
Exposure to antibiotics has also been demonstrated as one of the major causes of gut microbiome imbalances, both during pregnancy and infancy.
Birth mode, feeding method and antibiotic usage often cannot be controlled and may not be a choice for many with benefits for both the mother and infant. However, there are some other ways you can support your infants gut microbiome to assist in immune system development.
By Rebecca Traylen, Head of Nutrition, Probio7.