What are they?
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that live inside our digestive tracts. They keep the gut healthy and balanced. They also reduce the number of bad bacteria and aid digestion. Probiotics occur naturally in many foods that you may already eat such as yogurt, kefir, naturally fermented sour kraut and kombucha. You can find them at almost any health food store, especially here in Portland.
Group Beta Strep (GBS)
Probiotics were recommended to me in my 30th week of pregnancy by my midwives. It is a way to prevent Group Beta Strep (GBS), which is present in about 5-35% of childbearing women. The rate of infection to the baby is quite low, but the risk is significant, as it can be fatal in 5-15% of babies who contract it from their mother at birth.
If this bacteria is present in the vagina or intestines before birth an intravenous antibiotic drip is recommended which greatly reduces rates of transmission. However women who take probiotics during pregnancy more often test negative for GBS. As a personal testament, after taking probiotics faithfully for 7 weeks, I just tested negative for GBS.
Probiotics and Eczema
As I researched these little wonderful bacteria, I found that the benefits of probiotics to your baby go above and beyond protecting him or her from GBS. Approximately 10% of all babies have eczema. A study in the British Journal of Dermatology revealed that babies of mothers who took probiotics in their last month of pregnancy and through the first 3 months of baby’s life (if breastfeeding) reduced the risk of developing eczema by 40%. Those are pretty good odds for something that can only benefit you or your baby. Additionally, according a recent research published in Pediatrics, probiotics may reduce colic, which makes sense, since they aid in the overall digestive process.