There are trillions of bacteria making their home within the human intestinal tract. In fact, you are flooded by an ocean of bacteria within your body. Luckily, there are some bacteria species within the body that tend to be good. They are bacteria that do not cause any harm. Perhaps, they work towards supporting the immune system and the digestive system in human beings. The most interesting thing about bacteria is that they start living in the human gut quite early in life and this is even before a baby takes birth. An infant’s first encounter with bacteria is when it passes through the birth canal of the mother and is populated with bacteria from the reproductive tract of the mother. Bacteria that an infant is exposed to during the birth canal passage procedure create a pattern for their future gut microbiota.
Bacteria Colonization in C Section Babies and in Babies Delivered Vaginally
This might lead you to wonder how cesarean babies become colonized with bacteria since they do not pass through the birth canal of the mother. It has been suggested through research that the gut bacteria colonization in C section babies is completely different from the colonization of the ones born naturally. The infants delivered via C section are colonized with bacteria from the hospital setting, the environment and the mother’s skin while the ones delivered vaginally inhibit bacteria from the reproductive tract of the mother.
The Role Played by Bifidobacterium Infantis
Babies born vaginally have high concentrations of Bifidobacterium along with a certain species known as Bifidobacterium infantis. Bifidobacterium infantis is bacteria commonly found in the guts of breastfed babies. Breast milk is quite rich in its content of HMOs or human milk oligosaccharides that cannot be broken down by the babies and thus cannot be used as a source of energy. So, why is it present in breast milk? Dissimilar to human beings, Bifidobacterium infantis bacteria do have the ability of breaking down HMOs and use this breast milk component as an energy source. Perhaps, HMOs might have been placed in breast milk specifically for fostering the development of Bifidobacterium infantis.
The Benefits Offered by Bifidobacterium Infantis
Research has suggested that Bifidobacterium infantis offers great benefits to the immune system and also helps in maintaining the integrity of the small intestine wall. Additionally, the absence or the presence of Bifidobacterium infantis might have an important role to play in whether a baby develops certain food sensitivities or not. There are other important health benefits offered by Bifidobacterium infantis. It is gut-friendly probiotic bacteria that help in crowding out bad bacteria that have the capability of causing infections by competing for their resources. C-section babies, infants fed formula, infants staying at the hospital for a long time post birth and premature babies are likely to have low levels of good bacteria and supplementing these babies with probiotics containing Bifidobacterium infantis can help them in remaining healthy.