Breastfeeding greatly benefits your baby’s immune system. Breastmilk contains precious antibodies and enzymes that protect your baby from chronic conditions such as obesity, allergies, asthma, and diabetes.
Unfortunately, most newborns are missing a beneficial gut bacteria that helps in the utilization and absorption of all of breastmilk’s nutrients. Dreaming of Baby speaks with Dr. Tanya Altmann on the importance of breastfeeding and of having the right gut bacteria.
Daniela: Good afternoon, Dr. Tanya Altmann, and welcome to Dreaming of Baby. It’s a pleasure to be speaking with you today. We’re very much looking forward to our discussion on breastfeeding and how this affects a baby’s immune system. Before we start addressing this subject, grateful if you could introduce yourself and your work in this field to our readers.
Dr. Tanya Altmann: Hello. I am a UCLA trained pediatrician, parenting book author and mom of 3 boys. I practice pediatrics in Calabasas, CA with an emphasis on infant and child nutrition and preventive medicine.
How does breastfeeding boost a baby’s immune system?
Daniela: Thank you, Dr. Altmann. To start with our discussion, what role does breastfeeding play in boosting a baby’s immune system?
Dr. Tanya Altmann: Breastfeeding is the ideal source of nutrition for a new baby. Breastmilk contains the right amount of nutrition, as well as special carbohydrates babies need. When breastfeeding, you pass immunoglobulins onto your baby to help protect your little one. In addition, breast milk contains special carbohydrates called human milk oligosaccharides to help feed the good bacteria in your baby’s gut. Basically, breast milk is ideal, but your baby needs to have the right gut bacteria to utilize and absorb all the nutrition in breast milk. Recent research has shown that many babies born in the United States are missing the good gut bacteria needed to use all of the special nutrients in breast milk.
DR. TANYA ALTMANN: “RECENT RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THAT MANY BABIES BORN IN THE UNITED STATES ARE MISSING THE GOOD GUT BACTERIA NEEDED TO USE ALL OF THE SPECIAL NUTRIENTS IN BREAST MILK.”
Daniela: Are babies normally born with this good gut bacteria?
Dr. Tanya Altmann: 100 years ago they were, but due to generations of modern medical interventions like C-Sections, antibiotic use and formula, many babies today aren’t born with the right gut bacteria to utilize all of that liquid gold. Even if today’s mom does everything right, has a vaginal birth, poops on the delivery table and breastfeeds her little one, she may not have the right gut bacteria to pass on to her new baby.
Dr. Tanya Altmann: That’s where probiotics come into play. Probiotics are great for everyone at every age, especially newborns.
Daniela: And can the mom take probiotics during pregnancy to ensure the best start for her child?
Dr. Tanya Altmann: Moms can take probiotics during delivery, and I recommend that. However, research shows that by giving a newborn baby the right probiotic after birth and breastfeeding, a baby’s gut can become colonized with the right good gut bacteria to help protect them for a life of good health.
Dr. Tanya Altmann: A daily probiotic can help babies colonize their gut with good bacteria to help them absorb all of breast milk’s important nutrients. We also know that babies born without good gut bacteria are 5 times more likely to develop allergies and diabetes and 3 times more likely to develop obesity later on in life. So I recommend that all of my patients take a daily probiotic and that breastfed babies get a baby probiotic daily.
Dr. Tanya Altmann: It’s that balance of good gut bacteria over bad gut bacteria that we all need and starting in the first week of life can set your little one up right.
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