Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dangers to Infants You Need to Be Aware of

By Dr. Mercola
Babies are born at considerable risk nowadays. Toxic exposures and lack of nutrition and beneficial microbes in utero and after birth can contribute to a wide variety of health problems. Here, I will cover four commonly overlooked infant dangers:
  • Poor gut health
  • Flame retardant chemicals
  • Insufficient vitamin D
  • Exposure to genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

Gut Bacteria May Influence Your Baby’s Growth

Research has demonstrated that microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract form an intricate, living fabric of natural controls affecting body weight, energy, and nutrition.
Most recently, a Norwegian study published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology1 found that the types of bacteria present in an infant’s digestive system influences the child’s growth.2
Your child’s digestive tract is quickly populated with a variety of bacteria originating from mother's vaginal tract (if delivered via vaginal birth), breast milk (if breastfed), and other sources, such as infant formula.
Toxic exposures and certain drugs can also alter your child’s microflora. Examples include pesticides like glyphosate, and antibiotics—both of which can decimate populations of beneficial gut microbes.
Understanding how infants’ microbiota develops over time is important in order to devise strategies to change it for the better; thereby benefiting children’s long-term health. Similar research is being done to determine the impact of different microbiota on adult health and disease through the American Gut Project.
In this study, they found that the presence of Bacteroides in male babies at 30 days of age was significantly associated with reduced growth. In contrast, the presence of E. coli species between the age of four days and one month was linked with normal growth in both boys and girls. According to the authors:
"We have created a new way of looking at the development of gut microbiota [the body's microbial ecosystem] over time and relating this development to health outcomes.
After applying our new method, we found an indication that the composition of early life gut microbiota may be associated with how fast or slow babies grow in early life although there is also the possibility that factors early in life affect both gut microbiota and how fast the baby grows."

Your Baby's Gut Flora Impacts Far More Than Just Growth

The health implications of variations in gut bacteria acquired from birth is exactly what Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride's research sheds light upon. Her research shows there's a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, starting from birth.

She has developed what might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for a wide range of neurological, psychological, and autoimmune disorders—all of which are heavily influenced by your gut health.
I believe her Gut and Psychology Syndrome, and Gut and Physiology Syndrome (GAPS) Nutritional program is vitally important for MOST people, as the majority of people have such poor gut health due to poor diet and toxic exposures, but it's particularly crucial for pregnant women and young children.
Children who are born with severely damaged gut flora are not only more susceptible to disease; they're also more susceptible to vaccine damage, which may help explain why some children develop symptoms of autism after receiving one or more childhood vaccinations.
It's important to understand that the gut flora a child acquires during vaginal birth is dependent on the mother's gut flora.
So if mother's microflora is abnormal, the child's will be abnormal as well. GAPS can manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of both physical disorders and brain disorders, including autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities.
Digestive issues, asthma, allergies, skin problems and autoimmune disorders are also common outgrowths of GAPS, as it can present itself either psychologically or physiologically.
If you've taken antibiotics or birth control pills, if you eat a lot of processed or sugary foods, or if you were bottle-fed as a baby—all of these can impact the makeup of bacteria and microbes in your gut, which are then transferred to your child.
For instance, we now know that breastfed babies develop entirely different gut flora compared to bottle-fed babies. Infant formula never was, and never will be, a healthy replacement for breast milk, for a number of reasons -- altered gut flora being one of them (and this applies whether the infant formula contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients or not, although GE ingredients may be far worse).
Maintaining optimal gut flora, and 'reseeding' your gut with fermented foods and probiotics when you're taking an antibiotic, may be one of the most important steps you can take to improve your health, and this is particularly important if you’re planning to become pregnant. If you aren't eating fermented foods, you most likely need to supplement with a probiotic on a regular basis, especially if you're eating a lot of processed foods.

Parental Saliva May Have Beneficial Effect on Baby’s Immune System, Cutting Allergy Risk

Infant growth is just one of many aspects affected by the composition of bacteria in your body. Another recent study published in the journal Pediatrics3 found that parents who clean off their child’s pacifier by sucking on it may be inadvertently reducing their child's risk of developing allergies4, 5. This appears to be a side effect of your oral bacteria affecting your child’s gut bacteria.
According to the authors:
"Exposure of the infant to parental saliva might accelerate development of a complex oral/pharyngeal microbiota that, similar to a complex gut microbiota, might beneficially affect tolerogenic handling of antigens by the oral/pharyngeal lymphoid tissues. Moreover, oral bacteria are swallowed and hence also affect the composition of the microbiota in the small intestine, which may in turn regulate tolerance development in the gut."
Other studies have similarly shown that your child’s microbiota may influence his or her risk of developing allergies as a result of leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut is a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall. These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream -- hence the term leaky gut syndrome.
Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances "leaking out" into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation. Besides being associated with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, or celiac disease, leaky gut can also be a contributing factor to allergies.
Interestingly, the study also concluded that vaginal delivery and parental pacifier sucking were independently associated with a reduced likelihood of developing eczema. Prevalence of this skin condition was lowest—20 percent—among infants covered by both factors, and highest (54 percent) among those born via cesarean birth and whose parents did not clean their pacifiers by sucking on it.
"Thus, vaginal delivery, which is a source for transfer of a complex microbiota from mother to infant and parent and infant sharing of a pacifier might both lead to microbial stimulation, with beneficial effects on allergy development," the researchers wrote.

Parents, Beware of Toxic Flame-Retardant Chemicals

Next we get into toxins... Here, you could fill an entire library with information, but some toxins are more prevalent and/or more dangerous than others. For example, preliminary research findings6, 7 suggest that children exposed to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in utero are at increased risk for hyperactivity and lower IQ. PBDEs are fire-retardant chemicals that have been in use for decades in items like carpeting, upholstery, mattresses, baby strollers and electronics, just to name a few.
Animal tests have shown that the chemicals disrupt the endocrine system, and because their chemical structure resembles thyroid hormone, they may affect thyroid function. In children, thyroid hormone is important for proper growth and development, especially brain development.
The researchers measured PBDE levels in the blood of 309 pregnant women, and their children were later evaluated through intelligence and behavior tests once a year until the age of five. They discovered that PBDE exposure in the womb was associated with hyperactivity between the ages of two and five, and with lower IQ scores at age five. A tenfold increase in PBDE exposure during pregnancy was related to about a four-point IQ deficit in five-year-old children. Previous research8 has also linked PBDE exposure in utero to reductions in IQ, as well as deficits in fine motor function and attention. According to study author Dr. Aimin Chen, assistant professor in the department of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine:
"In animal studies, PBDEs can disrupt thyroid hormone and cause hyperactivity and learning problems. Our study adds to several other human studies to highlight the need to reduce exposure to PBDEs in pregnant women... Because PBDEs exist in the home and office environment as they are contained in old furniture, carpet pads, foams and electronics, the study raises further concern about their toxicity in developing children.”  Link back to where the story originated.  More on this topic at the link above.

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