Your Baby’s Microbiome: The Critical Role of Vaginal Birth and Breastfeeding for Lifelong Health summarizes the latest scientific research on the benefits of vaginal birth and breastfeeding to an infant’s microbiome. Written for childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, and interested parents, Your Baby’s Microbiome is packed full of detailed information on the microbial and epigenetic differences between vaginal and c-section births. For the parent debating between a scheduled c-section or vaginal birth – this book is a must read. Your Baby’s Microbiome provides all readers with the latest science – straight from the researchers – on how vaginal birth and breastfeeding are thought to influence gut microbiome establishment. Sticks to the Data I greatly appreciated the restraint of the authors in discussing areas like water-birthing and in-caul births, where the research has not been done. They make it extremely clear that the research hasn’t been done, but then do provide thoughtful ideas from the data currently available. I find this extremely important for such a rapidly developing science. Perhaps the reason Your Baby’s Microbiome doesn’t over-reach is because the book was written from interviews with the scientists done for the documentary Microbirth. “The movie had to have one central message and we
Four different activities help educators from K-12 and undergraduate teach students about the importance of the human microbiome. Want to teach about the importance of the human microbiome, but don’t really know where to start? The ASM education blog just released a post – Bring the Magic of the Microbiome to Your Classroom – pulling together four of the microbiome exercises that have been published in JMBE recently. Take a look at these different classroom microbiome activities. I especially, love that there’s one – Microbe Motels – for K-8 and am looking forward to trying it out! Check out the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education (JMBE) published by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). JMBE is the educational journal of the society and features excellent classroom activities. It’s open access and even FREE for members to publish in! WIN WIN!
“Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World” provides suggestions for a microbially rich and healthy childhood. Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World talks directly to parents about the importance of microbes to your young kids. Authors Brett Finlay, PhD and Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD have an excellent message – let kids get dirty and quit abusing antibiotics. Let Them Eat Dirt is an engaging read clearly written and written clearly by scientist parents who have been in the “parenting trenches”. This microbiome parenting book is a fun read. Several times I laughed out loud at the references to pregnancy and parenting woes. As a scientist, I appreciated their overall message about the importance of microbes to our health.
Thumb sucking and nail-biting early in life may reduce allergies later in life. Linus’ thumb-sucking habit just might reduce his risk of common allergies. An article in Pediatrics found that kids who had their fingers in their mouths at ages 5, 7, 9, and 11 years old were less likely to have a reaction to a skin prick test for allergies later in life (ages 13 and 32 years) . Study participants were pricked with common allergens including: house dust mites, grass, cat, dog, horse, wool, and several fungi at ages 13 and 32.
Helpful infant gut bacterium, Bifidobacterium infantis, uses special breast milk sugars to grow that other bacteria can’t use to grow. Breast Milk Sugars Don’t Feed the Infant As parents we often try to limit sugar for our kids. However, with breast milk – the sugars are essential food for helpful bacteria that grow in an infant’s gut. Along with fats, water, antioxidants from mom’s diet, antibodies, and other compounds, breast milk has a diversity of complex carbohydrate sugars. Called human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), these chains of carbohydrates bonded together are difficult to break apart. Humans do not make the enzymes that can break these breast milk sugar bonds [1, 2]. Our helpful gut bacteria do [3-6]. HMO sugars are extremely different from their refined and over-processed cousins that we use to sweeten our drinks and solid foods. Refined and processed sugars are primarily simple carbohydrates made of a few carbon molecules bound together (cartoon). These carbon bonds require little energy to break and digest, which is why they are considered a source of “fast energy”. Feeding Our Invisible Friends Why would human milk contain sugars that human infants can’t digest? It was a mystery for years. The answer came in 2008,