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Probiotics in pregnancy prove beneficial for both mom and baby

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by: Bethany Sciortino
Tags: probiotics, pregnancy, health news

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(NewsTarget) Probiotics are fast becoming a popular word in today's health and nutrition. From yogurt to natural pizza crusts, probiotics are increasingly common in food sources and all people benefit from their consumption. Recent research shows that probiotics are not only safe for pregnant women, but also extremely beneficial both to mom and baby.

Probiotics are live microorganisms, or good bacteria, and by the millions they live naturally in the intestines. They are introduced to our bodies during birth and without them we would be prone to infection, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and weakened immune systems. When the gut is heavily populated with healthy bacteria, it prevents the growth of aggressive bacteria from food-borne illnesses, such as salmonella, and protects us from infection.

When a woman discovers she is pregnant, digestion issues quickly become an issue of concern. Increasing hormones, fatigue and stress disturb the healthy balance of good bacteria in the gut and cause a sluggish digestive system often leading to constipation, indigestion, nausea and vomiting.

Obstetricians will often prescribe mild pharmaceuticals to aid a woman's discomfort; however, all medication crosses the placenta and there is no real definitive research on the effects they can have on unborn child. These medications do nothing to resolve the problem, and if effective, only mask the symptoms. Probiotic consumption, however, treats the problem by restoring the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestines and by promoting regularity.

The skin is our first line of defense from infection. However, many people are unaware that 60-70% of our immune system lies within our intestines. Pregnancy causes the immune system to work harder, and increased intake of probiotics may decrease the risk of colds and respiratory infections. Research shows that probiotics also help prevent urinary tract infections, yeast infections and skin inflammations like dermatitis; all of these complaints are common during pregnancy.

Probiotic benefits are also extended to the fetus and help promote a strong immune system at birth. Studies show that mothers who increase their probiotic intake during pregnancy reduce their child's risk of allergies by as much as 50%, specifically in eczema, asthma and atopic dermatitis. Probiotic supplementation in children with dermatitis greatly reduces the symptoms and often provides complete resolution. Breastfeeding mothers who take probiotics will continue to pass this immune benefit to their child through breast milk.

Food like yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese and sauerkraut are cultured with probiotics, most commonly acidophilus and bifidobacterium. However, by the time these items hit grocery shelves, they accommodate very few live microorganisms. Although food acquired probiotics are the most favorable, supplementation is often necessary to increase the levels of healthy flora in the intestines. Probiotic supplements can be found in health and nutrition stores and vitamin shops and are available without a prescription.


About the author

Bethany Sciortino is a married, stay-at-home mother of three young children. Bethany left her career to aggressively research the cause of and treat her eldest daughter's autism, as well as take care of her growing family. Bethany is an advocate of proper nutrition, natural healing and illness prevention through herbal and vitamin supplementation and dietary intervention not only for her daughter's autism, but for adults and children of all ages. Contact Bethany at [email protected].

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