If 70% of the body’s immunity comes from the gut (1), is your child protected enough? Bacteria or the gut microbiome play a big role in digestion and nutrition and in the immune system of children(2). That is why it is important to talk about gut health and how it affects your child’s overall health.
For children to thrive, their gastrointestinal (GI) tract must be in good health. It does, however, occasionally require some tender loving care. Boosting your child's digestive health to support their overall health is vital, whether you're worried about constipation, diarrhea, tummy aches, or just general digestive health. Find out more about how the gut works and how you can promote your child's gut health!
What is gut health?
Gut health refers to digestive health. The microorganisms that reside in your intestines are referred to as your "gut microbiome." Each person's digestive tract contains roughly 200 distinct types of bacteria, viruses, and fungus(1).
In addition, as stated in the article of Stanford Medicine, 5 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Gut Health, there are more than 100 trillion living organisms, mostly bacteria, in the human intestines. These "bugs" aid in digestion, boost immunity, guard against infections, and may even prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Many microbes are highly helpful and even necessary for a healthy body, while some are toxic to human health(3).
In a webinar conducted by theAsianparent with Dr. Marthony Basco, MD, Child and Public Health Specialist, and Director of Medical Affairs at Medicomm Pacific, Inc, the doctor discussed the importance of gut health.
“Nagsisimula ang gut health kapag ang bata ay nasa loob pa lang ng tiyan. Kaya important na ang maternal health, dapat healthy si mommy at saka happy.”
Gut health from birth to toddlerhood
Newborn (from birth-2 months)
Vaginal delivery vs C-section
According to Dr. Basco, the manner of delivery has something to do with the gut health of your child. If your baby is delivered via NSD or normal spontaneous vaginal delivery, good bacteria are produced because of where the child passes through, they are exposed early to the good bacteria that comes from the mother's vaginal canal. Even if the vagina is cleaned after giving birth, there are still bacteria left inside the vaginal canal. Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides, bacteria in the mother's vaginal canal, are called alpha diversity. Those are healthy bacteria that will initiate gut health.
On the other hand, it is called beta bacteria when cesarean section is the mode of delivery. It consists of Enterobacteriaceae and opportunistic pathogens.
“Based on studies and observations, as the child grows older, kapag siya ay cesarean section, mataas usually ang kaniyang BMI o ‘yung body mass index.”
“Kapag mataas ang BMI ng bata, attributed to cesarean delivery, usually ang mga batang ito malaki ang body index nila, mabigat sila but they are more at risk of developing asthma, infections,”
“Kapag ang mga batang ito ay hindi nagkaroon ng intervention, ibig sabihin hindi na-detect nang maaga, dahil hindi nadadala sa doktor, ang nangyayari sa kanila, nagkakaroon ang mga batang ito ng Type 1 diabetes, hypertension, allergy, at ‘yong iba naman nagkakaroon din ng cancer.”
Therefore, if a kid is delivered via cesarean section, parents should pay closer attention to the digestive health of their child. Furthermore, it is vital that you bring your kid to your pediatrician every month until they are one year old. According to Dr. Basco, when they reach the age of one, regular check-ups should be done every six months until they are five years old. Additionally, as they age, it is crucial to have a checkup once a year. Dr. Basco added that the risk of sickness is higher for newborns delivered via c-section.
Breastfed vs formula-fed
Dr. Basco also said that there are more benefits that children can get when they are breastfed. There is bacteria on the skin of the mother's breast that is safe for the child. A child's gut health develops better when it is breastfed.
On the other hand, according to Dr. Basco, the gut bacteria that grow when formula fed are different. Because of those bacteria, children usually develop allergies, diabetes, asthma, and become obese or underweight.
Newborn skin microbiome
The doctor also explained about the vernix caseosa which is the white, creamy substance found on the baby’s skin upon birth.
“Kapag isinilang na may vernix caseosa ang inyong anak, huwag niyo pong tatanggalin ‘yan. Mayroon po ‘yang normal, na natural microbiome. This will help ensure that the skin of your child is healthy, moisturized and free from other organisms. Proteksyon po ‘yan ng inyong anak para di po makapasok sa kaniyang balat ang ibang bacteria. Kapag napaliguan ang bata pwede na itong unti-unting matanggal.”
Infancy (2 months-12 months)
Baby led weaning plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut for your kid. What is baby led weaning? An article entitled What is Baby Led Weaning, published at the Good Food, stated that the method of feeding your baby solely solid finger foods and teaching them to eat by themselves without assistance from you or another adult is known as the baby-led weaning.
According to the article Baby-Led Weaning: What You Need to Know by Cleveland Clinic, babies who are learning to feed themselves frequently begin by only consuming pureed foods, go through various progressively more difficult stages of commercial baby food, and finally graduate to solids. Parents concentrate on spoon feeding infants until they are strong enough to eat on their own.
Dr. Basco also noted that when a child reaches the age of 4-6 months, you can start giving them iron supplements.
“Pag dating ng bata ng 4-6 months, bumababa na ang kaniyang hemoglobin at red blood cells. Kasi yan ay galing sa nanay. Dapat healthy ang nanay. So, pagdating ng 4-6 months bumababa na ‘yong level na galing sa nanay at unti-unti tumataas naman ‘yong level na pinoproduce ng bata. So, ang tanging source ng iron ng bata ay feeding –yung kaniyang pagkain other than milk.”
Aside from that you may start introducing prebiotics and probiotics to your child at this stage. To maintain a healthy digestive tract, one must have a variety of bacteria inside the intestine.
“Kapag maganda ang gut health ng bata because may present na probiotics, by giving them particular sets of food and a variety of food, champion ang inyong mga anak.”
Image by Freepik
Toddlerhood (1-4 years old)
To have a healthy gut during toddlerhood, you need to expose your child to different varieties of food. The more variety, the better it is for them. But you also need to remember that it is important they eat foods that are close to nature. Meaning, give them more fruits and vegetables and avoid giving them processed foods.
Gut health and antibiotics
Antibiotics may affect the gut health of your child. It is stated in the article Understanding Gut Health: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and What to Do About It, published in Healthline, that there are reports that some antibiotics, such as the often prescribed tetracyclines and macrolides, might destroy beneficial gut bacteria while being used. Doctors advise people using antibiotics to eat foods high in probiotics while taking the drugs since a lack of good gut bacteria can cause gastrointestinal problems and recurrent infections.
Dr. Basco reminds parents that if your child needs to take antibiotics for a certain reason, it may disrupt the gut microbiota, resulting to diarrhea. So, it is important you only give antibiotics to your child as prescribed by your doctor. Never self-medicate. Dr. Basco further said that to recover from antibiotic use, your kid should eat, drink, and rest. Aside from that, you can give them probiotics.
“Huwag tumigil sa pagbibigay ng variety of food sa bata, ito ‘yong prebiotics. Para ‘yong kaniyang gut health, ma-maintain pa rin natin. Tandaan, kapag nagbigay ng antibiotic, lahat ng microorganism sa loob ng gut, pinapatay ng antibiotic na ‘yan.”
“Dahil nawala ang healthy bacteria sa loob ng tiyan ng bata, kailangan ma-supplement naman ito using a probiotic.”
“Ensure that the probiotics stays alive in the gut because not all probiotics is created equal. Hindi pare-pareho. May mga probiotics na namamatay ‘pag kasabay ng antibiotic. Pero merong probiotic na ininom mo kasabay ng antibiotics nabubuhay pa rin siya.”
Erceflora Kiddie for your child’s healthy tummy
Speaking of gut health and recovering from antibiotics, Erceflora Kiddie is best for your baby.
Erceflora Kiddie is a probiotic drink created by Sanofi. It is made with Bacillus clausii spores. An example of beneficial bacteria that forms spores and helps to rebalance the intestine. Regular use (or following a health care provider’s advice) can help treat and prevent a variety of gastrointestinal issues brought on by gut imbalance.(6)
It is explained in a study entitled Efficacy of Bacillus Clausii Spores in the Prevention of Recurrent Respiratory Infections in Children: A Pilot Study published at the US National Library of Medicine that Bacillus clausii spores have the capacity to endure the stomach's naturally acidic environment and make it to the intestinal tract.
In addition, the 4 strains of Bacillus clausii bacteria that are present in Erceflora products possess unique genes that make them resistant to certain antibiotics.(6)
Moreover, Erceflora has the capacity to aid in the restoration of internal balance and in the relief of dysbiosis-related conditions like diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.(7) During antibiotic treatment, Erceflora's probiotic benefit will help you restore the balance of bacteria in the intestine.(7)
Photo by Freepik
Probiotics benefits in gut health
In an interview with theAsianparent Philippines, Dr. Yvonne Ferrer, the ASEAN Medical Head of Sanofi Opella, reiterated that probiotics is beneficial to gut health.
“Probiotics are good bacteria. 1/3 of our weight is composed of good and bad bacteria. Natural residents yan ng body natin. Now there are conditions na pwedeng mabawasan ‘yong natural flora na tinatawag and one of these is diarrhea. Kasi mainly they reside in our gut,”
“Kapag po-poo ka nang po-poo sumasama ron ‘yong good and bad bacteria. Kapag nangyari ‘yon magkakaroon ng imbalance. That’s why you need probiotics. Bigay mo na ‘yong good bacteria para ma-replenish and ma-stop ‘yung diarrhea.”
If there is no diarrhea, it is still good to give the child probiotics to ensure that the microflora is sustained.
“Based on research maraming benefits ang probiotics. Not just to treat diarrhea and strengthen immunity, even cancer nakita na ang probiotics has benefits in preventing cancer. Even in cholesterol levels. So, probiotics is good to start early. Kasi it will help the kids in future life when they become adults. To prepare them to adulthood. And then also to prevent chronic diseases.”
In addition, according to Dr. Ferrer, studies have also proven that drinking probiotics helps prevent colic in children.
“There are also researchers about colic. Yung kabag na tinatawag. Bakit nagkakabag? Kasi minsan, ‘yong mga bad bacteria they produce gases. And sa research, yung good bacteria, they neutralized the negative effects ng bad bacteria. In some studies, nakita na may benefit din ang probiotics sa colic.”
Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide numerous health benefits to the human body, especially to the gut. In children, probiotics can play a crucial role in promoting gut health by supporting the growth of good bacteria in their digestive system. A healthy gut is essential for overall health and wellbeing, as it helps with digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system function.(2) Probiotics have been shown to improve digestive health, reduce the incidence of diarrhea and constipation, and boost immunity in children, making them an important part of a child's healthy diet.(8)
- Dix M., RN-BSN, Klein E. (2022, June 1). “Understanding Gut Health: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut and What to Do About It”: Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health
- theAsianparent. (2022, November 29). Gut Health 101: How Kids Can Be Belly Ready. [Video]. Facebook. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/theAsianparentPH/videos/3323966491225340
- “5 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Gut Health”: Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. (n.d) Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=5-ways-to-boost-your-childs-gut-health-197-29161
- Phillips, F. (2023, January 18). “What Is Baby Led Weaning?”: Good Food. Retrieved from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/what-baby-led-weaning
- “Baby-Led Weaning: What You Need to Know”. (2021, October 27). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/baby-led-weaning/
- Manag, T. (2007, March). “Efficacy of Bacillus Clausii Spores in the Prevention of Recurrent Respiratory Infections in Children: A Pilot Study”: National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1936284/
- Erceflora. Why Erceflora. Retrieved from https://bit.ly/3Z59A69
- Dr. Ferrer, Yvonne. Interview. Conducted by Marhiel Garrote. (2023, January)
MAT-PH-2300300 / Ver 2.0 / DA 04-2023 / DM 04-2023
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