Research continues to confirm the importance of good gut health and the crucial role a healthy gut plays in our future health and wellbeing. Good gut health starts the day we are born and can have a profound effect on issues like obesity, allergies, mental health and heart health.
Many of the bacteria in a new-born baby’s gut comes from Mum. The first thing that happens that influences this is the type of delivery. A vaginal birth exposes the baby to the mother’s vaginal microflora and allows the baby’s gut to be well populated by good bacteria. A baby delivered by caesarean section is delivered into a sterile environment. This can however affect the level of good bacteria in the gut. This small difference resulting from different types of delivery has been shown to have an influence on the development of a healthy immune system. And when you factor in gut maturity, it’s worth remembering that anything from 38 weeks to 42 weeks of pregnancy is considered to be full-term. That’s a 4 week difference between 2 full-term babies and a 4 week difference in gut maturity.
The next thing that influences the gut health is how a baby is fed. In the first year of life, 30% of breast fed babies’ gut bacteria comes from breast milk and a further 10% from the Mum’s breast. Many of the formula companies have now included prebiotics to their infant formulas to try to address this imbalance.
If a baby has antibiotics at any stage this too will have an effect on the gut health.
We see babies who have issues with their gut health or their gut development here at the clinic every week. They present with colic type symptoms, grunting and straining with lower gas and can be generally unsettled. It’s worth noting that 95% of digestion occurs in the small intestine. That is why a healthy gut is so important in babies. Frank treats these babies, taking particular notice of their gut tension. He also gives parents very specific advice for each baby, depending on their particular issues and history. Thankfully it’s an issue that can be treated and resolved very successfully.
Frank Kelleher Paediatric Osteopath
Cork Children’s Clinic, Model Farm Road, Cork.