When you look at breastfed and bottle-fed babies, you find a difference in their intestinal bacteria. Breastfed babies regularly have high levels of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. Conversely, these babies display strains of Bacteroides, Prevotella, Porphyromonas, Enterobacteria and Clostridium bacteria only very rarely, or in low levels. In comparison with bottle-fed babies, breast-fed infants regularly present a high bacteria count. Bottle-fed children exhibit lower levels of lactobacilli than breastfed babies.
What links intestinal colonisation, via breast milk, and digestion?
Good bacteria, which the child receives in breast milk, help a healthy flora to colonise the gut. This supports healthy digestion in the child, and also aids vitamin and enzyme production and communication with the immune system.
When parents ask themselves whether their child should be breastfed or not, the answer is always: yes, if possible.
Breast milk contains many essential components that are vitally important for an infant. A breastfed baby receives elements that help its body's natural defences, such as antibodies, antiviral and antibacterial substances.
Breast milk also contains some "fibre-like" substances. These are metabolised in the large intestine, lowering the pH of the bowel and encouraging the growth of Bifidobacteria.
Breastfeeding does not, however, generally lead to wind in the infant. If the baby lies very flat on the mother's breast to feed, it can swallow more air. This means air passing into the intestines, which causes wind.
Some people suspect that colic is affected by the mother's diet. Onions, carbonated drinks and beans are frequently listed as culprits. Try the foods one by one and wait two days to see how your child reacts.
But there are also other theories to explain the occurrence of colic in babies under the age of 3 months. Experts suspect that colic might be triggered by environmental factors.
The bowel and the nervous system are closely linked.
There are more nerves in the intestines than in the spinal cord. In a young infant, these structures are not yet fully developed. Experts suspect, therefore, that the baby struggles to cope with external stimuli, causing the occurrence of colic. In this instance, experts advise paying more attention to the baby and giving him or her affection.
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