We all know that genetics are a key factor passed onto your unborn child when you conceive, shaping them for the rest of their lives (no pressure!), but there is also another hugely important influencing factor that parents pass on to their children which is often overlooked – their gut flora.
Here we give you the brief lowdown:
Babies have strong digestive systems whilst they’re in the womb and as they travel through the birth canal during labour they take their first mouthfuls of bacteria, so whatever lives in the birth canal is what becomes the babies gut flora.
The flora in the birth canal comes from the bowel and it’s not just the mother who influences this – the father has his own growing flora which comes from his bowel which he shares with the mother on a regular basis – so fathers are not exempt.
If the mother has abnormal gut flora or gut dysbiosis then this is what is passed on to the baby and the baby does not develop normal gut flora.
Babies are also born with an immature immune system and establishing good gut flora in the first 20 days of life plays a crucial role in the proper maturation of the baby’s immune system. If the baby acquires abnormal gut bacteria, then it is left immune compromised which can result in health and behavioural difficulties down the line.
During the first year of life a baby is usually breast fed if possible and despite the fact that the baby may have acquired abnormal gut bacteria the baby is getting lots of protection from breast milk and its immune system will continue to develop.