An open letter to Beyoncé wishing her and her family well as the twins meet their microbial partners for life. Dear Beyoncé, As you wait and prepare for the twins’ birth please don’t forget the invisible microbes that will protect, feed, and teach your babies for the rest of their lives. Yep, I’m talking about “germs” or more politically correctly – “microbes”. Babies are “microbe magnets”. Those first microbes that baby encounters become their microbes for life. They are stuck together – life partners in sickness and in health. What’s cool is that these microbes are security guards keeping away diseases, chefs chopping up food to feed baby, and soothing Jedi masters who teach baby’s immune system what to kill and what to ignore. In my grandmother’s day, people in developed countries died from communicable diseases – polio, mumps, measles, yellow fever. Diseases that are spread from person to person by sneezing, coughing, or spread by insects, like mosquitos. Today people die from non-communicable diseases – diabetes, allergies, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and more. Our diseases today aren’t due to specific microbial pathogens. Vaccines, handwashing, clean water, sewers, and antibiotics keep these easy-to-spread microbial diseases at low numbers. Instead, today’s diseases
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
The BioCollective – transforming and accelerating microbiome research and novel therapies – while saving our human microbiome diversity and maybe you. Your poop is more than just waste. If you think that microbiome research has changed medicine – you ain’t seen nothing yet. The BioCollective (TBC) is transforming citizen science microbiome research from sample collection to the potential for providing a return on your initial “deposit”. TBC is building a microbiome data and sample repository to help scientists accelerate their research and development of potential therapeutics. TBC’s unique approach to microbiome citizen science research is due to the perfect trinity of collaborators: Martha Carlin, Jack Gilbert, PhD, and Suzanne Vernon, PhD. TBC is the brainchild of self-trained citizen scientist Martha Carlin, a former systems analyst who “turned around” struggling companies. Martha realized that for microbiome research to aid or even cure microbiome-related diseases, a new, integrative, multi-pronged approach was needed and a wider diversity of people should be sampled. The BioCollective provides solutions to many of the current issues with human microbiome research. A clean poop sample TBC Member issue: People are often totally “icked” out and may have trouble collecting high quality sample. Researcher issue: TBC Members
Self-trained citizen scientist, Martha Carlin, founds The BioCollective to accelerate microbiome research and therapies. “Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson His vacant stare told Martha Carlin something was wrong with her 44-year-old husband. Many doctor’s visits later, the diagnosis – Parkinson’s Disease. A systems analyst and expert in turning around companies, Martha Carlin was determined to turn around the doctor’s prognosis that Parkinson’s would kill her husband. So for the next 15 years, she began pouring her energy, time, and disposable income into becoming a self-trained scientist. Starting with one of Michael J. Fox’s book, Martha read hundreds of books about nutrition, disease, and immunology. With the help of a childhood friend who was a college librarian and Googling for unfamiliar terms, Martha read scientific journal articles. Slowly she put together a mind map of different potential genetic and environmental influences that might have led to her husband’s Parkinson’s disease. During Parkinson’s Disease, brain cells stop producing the chemical messages that allow for coordinated movement. Patients gradually lose control of their muscles. As she interviewed Parkinson’s patients, Martha noticed that many had frequently used antibiotics, had
“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.