Your 0 to 6 weeks new­born New­born es­sen­tials

Food, break­ing the solids down into smaller par­ti­cles that are more eas­ily ab­sorbed through the gut wall, while oth­ers play a role in mak­ing cer­tain vi­ta­mins. Who knew such tiny crea­tures had such a big job? Great buys that help in the early days

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

WHEN GOOD BAC­TE­RIA GO BAD

Things can go wrong, con­cedes Dr Cooke. “Gut bac­te­ria can be­come in­va­sive and cause se­ri­ous ill­ness in­clud­ing pneu­mo­nia, menin­gi­tis and bac­ter­aemia,” she says. This is usu­ally in new­borns, mal­nour­ished chil­dren or those with im­paired im­mune sys­tems. Preterm ba­bies are also at risk of a con­di­tion called necro­tis­ing en­te­ro­col­i­tis due to their im­ma­ture im­mune and gas­troin­testi­nal sys­tems. Much en­cour­ag­ing work has been done on the use of pre­bi­otics and pro­bi­otics in neonates to pre­vent these con­di­tions, ex­plains Dr Cooke. Pro­bi­otics are reg­u­larly used to bring bal­ance be­tween the “good” and the “bad” bac­te­ria back, par­tic­u­larly when a course of an­tibi­otics gives your baby’s flora a knock. If the bal­ance of nor­mal pro­tec­tive or­gan­isms is dis­rupted, you can get over­growth of fungi like can­dida (thrush), and this can also be pre­vented to some ex­tent with pro­bi­otics. “Pro­bi­otics can re­sult in a new colony of bac­te­ria be­ing estab­lished af­ter the an­tibi­otic course and that these are sim­i­lar to the or­gan­isms that are pro­moted to grow when a child breast­feeds,” says Dr Cooke. Cer­tain brands of for­mula milk now also in­clude pre­bi­otics in an at­tempt to mimic the nat­u­ral pro­tec­tion pro­vided by breast­milk, although this can never re­place the mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of breast­feed­ing.

Con­sider this: spray­ing your baby’s room from top to bot­tom with an an­tibac­te­rial so­lu­tion may be do­ing them harm in the long term. “By liv­ing in a ster­ile world we may be dereg­u­lat­ing our im­mune sys­tems, thereby in­creas­ing the like­li­hood of au­toim­mune, al­ler­gic and in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tions like in­flam­ma­tory bowel dis­ease, rheuma­toid arthri­tis and di­a­betes,” says Dr Cooke. Re­search is also point­ing to­wards ev­i­dence that shows that your fu­ture weight/ obe­sity and even men­tal health can be af­fected by the bac­te­ria you’re host­ing in your gut – so it’s all the more im­por­tant for your baby to be­gin life with a healthy gut. YB

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