Can a C-section-birth have a lasting impact on your child’s immune system by disrupting the collection of microorganisms (microbiome) essential for maintaining health? How about the use of antibiotics? Do they wreak more havoc during a particular stage of the child’s development?
These are some of the questions explored in Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics is Fueling Our Modern Plagues, a new book by Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Program and former president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Takeaways for Moms & Moms-To-Be
As I see it, here are two of the most urgently relevant takeaways of Blaser’s book for Moms and Moms-To-Be:
- The baby born through C-section is not exposed to the protective microbes lining the birth canal. Thus they might be missing the organisms that are meant to become the foundation of their immune system.
- The microbiome is developed during the first three years of life. Thus the overuse of antibiotics particularly during that stage of development can have long term consequences on the child’s immune health ‘
I imagine what interests all of us who have given or will give birth through C-section is: how do we repair our children’s body ecology?
In his book, Dr. Blaser cites an experiment that aims to restore the natural microbiome by swabbing the newborn with the vaginal content of the mother. The data of the experiment are currently being analyzed but Blaser predicts that the technique will soon be adopted as a commonplace practice.
Dr. Blaser, as most integrative health practitioners also recommends the use of a high quality Probiotic. The use of Probiotics for children has been long endorsed by pediatricians with the hope that it encourages repair of the natural defense system. Of course along with that intervention comes a thoughtful awareness of what we encourage our children to ingest on every level.
Microbiome, fertility and reproductive health
Many of the women I have worked with in my workshops and counseling practice have digestive issues. One of the first imbalances we look to repair in the Fertile Heart Ovum approach to conception– using supplements, herbal infusions, food and the mind/body toolbox–is digestive health. For me, Dr Blaser’s book is a reminder to tend to the eco-friendliness our children’s first nursery. A quality probiotic and lots of fermented foods are two simple steps that can measurably contribute to a healthier intestinal environment.