Have you noticed probiotics are becoming a popular buzzword in the world of nutrition and medicine? In case you are unfamiliar with the role of probiotics, they are bacteria (and sometimes yeasts) that can be taken internally for their health benefits. Many, many studies have been done in the past 20 years, and this research is showing that an unhealthy gut is able to affect everything from our immune system and obesity to depression and diabetes!
One of these probiotics, Lactobacillus reuteri, more simply known as L. reuteri, is getting a lot of attention today. Normally found in the mouth and intestinal tract of mammals and birds, it has proven helpful in humans for infant colic, to boost dental health, and to reduce episodes of diarrhea and respiratory tract infections in young children.
As an example, our now six month old granddaughter, Adelle, had remarkable results after her mother, Genny, began giving her daily drops of L. reuteri in a product called Soothe Colic Drops by Gerber. Genny was breastfeeding, and noticed many foods she ate caused Adelle to have insistent crying spells immediately after feeding. Genny’s menu became very limited—she was down to meals consisting mostly of oatmeal, and more oatmeal, as well as simply seasoned meats.
One morning as Adelle’s parents were at the point of switching her to some type of formula, several of us prayed for her. I wish you could have heard her 2 year old brother pray—so sweetly and innocently. Later (the same day, I think) I came across the Soothe Colic Drops on Amazon (link below), read the reviews, and gave the suggestion to try them. They were available at our Walgreens, and thankfully, within minutes after her first dose, Adelle was much improved. Genny carefully and happily began reintroducing the foods she had not been eating. Adelle began getting the drops during the latter part of her second month, continuing until she was five months old.
When this probiotic was discovered in the 1960’s, 30-40% of the population were found to naturally carry this bacterium. This has decreased to only 10-20% of humans today. In a 2008 study of 220 nursing mothers from 7 countries, 50% of those living in rural areas had detectable levels of L. reuteri in their breastmilk. Meanwhile city dwelling moms had very low or non-detectable levels of this important bacteria in their milk. Interesting! (Two very possible reasons for urban families to have less healthy bacteria in their gut then their country neighbors is because they often use chlorinated water to bath, drink or cook with, and they also have less “dirt” in their diet. If you are curious to learn more – click here and here.
Also, today two common childbirth practices interfere with a newborn’s introduction to a mother’s beneficial microbes: antibiotics given to a mother in labor who has tested positive for Group B streptococcus, and a baby being born by C-section rather than passing through the birth canal where it would pick up its mother’s vaginal flora.
Concerning strep B, doctors recommend testing between the 35th and 37th week of pregnancy. If pregnant, please educate yourself early on about the risks involved with or without treatment if you carry strep B. This woman has done the research and explains what she would do before and after testing so that hopefully, IV antibiotics are not needed.
An intriguing report titled “Research: Could Birth-Canal Bacteria Help C-Section Babies?” talks of experimentally collecting these bacteria and wiping the newborn with them.
Remember: “Our interaction with our mother is the biggest burst of microbes that we get.” This is quoting Gary Huffnagle, a microbiologist and internist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
SEVERAL OF THE STUDIES DONE:
Recently in Mexico, day care children were found to have fewer cases of diarrhea and respiratory infections while taking, you guessed it, L. reuteri. Here is the study: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/03/11/peds.2013-0652.abstract
In 2010 an article in the Journal of Pediatrics reported infants with chronic constipation were helped by a strain of L. reuteri. Find it here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20542295
And here is a study that found taking L. reuteri during a child’s first year of life was associated with fewer cavities and better oral health at 9 years of age: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24296746
Here are some L. reuteri supplements you can try giving your child if they are experiencing digestive issues:
The powdered product that can be mixed with breast milk and given with a syringe or dropper: http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Way-Primadophilus-Reuteri-Ounce/dp/B00014G8Z6/ref=sr_1_1?rps=1&ie=UTF8&qid=1441137042&sr=8-1&keywords=reuteri
The product as chewable tablets: http://www.amazon.com/BioGaia-Probiotic-Chewable-Tablets-Count/dp/B001XUQNN4/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8#customerReviews
The product as small “pearls” –easily taken by a 3 year old: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000O3GCSW/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B000O3GCSW&linkCode=as2&tag=qth-20
And here are the Soothe Colic Drops that helped Adelle: http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-Soothe-Probiotic-Drops-Ounce/dp/B00JY6O1HE/ref=sr_1_2?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1444307184&sr=1-2&keywords=gerber+colic+soothe+drops
Reading the reviews on these products will help you make your decision.
I can not resist mentioning one more study on L. reuteri involving mice (your husband should be interested, at least!): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3879365/
A fascinating closing point:
It is believed that there are 10 times more microbial cells on and in our bodies than there are human cells.