How to give your baby an allergy-free life
“Come and see the baby. He has really bad allergies.” Yan asked me to follow her to see a baby of a family new to our church before our Friday Bible study three months ago.
He looked like he was only three months old, but her mom told me he was eight months old. His skin was flushed red from head to toe and covered with fresh and healing scars from scratching. He was crying most of the time, but you could barely hear it because his voice was so weak.
“He’s had allergies since birth,” his mom told me. “It was a caesarean section.”
This is one of the most severe cases of allergies I had ever seen. He had not grown for many months and he had been to the emergency room the night before because he hadn’t eaten.
Allergies, in this case, became a threat to his life.
With my understanding of the allergy problem, I suggested the mom order a probiotic product for the baby.
According to WebMD, 40% of children in the US suffer from allergies. It is one of the most common chronic diseases, costing the U.S. 18 billion dollars each year.
Studies1-3 have identified caesarean sections, formula feeding, antibiotic use, and many other modern lifestyle choices to be factors associated with the allergy epidemic.
When you consider factors associated with allergies it can be difficult to apply to real life and prevent allergies. For example, one of the factors is being born by a cesarean section, but a mother doesn’t always have control over whether her child will be born by C-section.
Most importantly, those factors just hint at the real cause. Preventing or curing allergies is not possible before finding the underlying cause of allergies.
This will soon change.
Our study that led to the development of AllerPops provides a cohesive theory to explain how our immune system interacts with our microbiota and how we develop allergies. The title of the study is “Oral Probiotic Deficiency May Cause Common Allergies – Theory of Negative Trigger Marks the Interaction between Microbiota and Host Immune System.”
Do you want to become the few who know this God’s secret? You may read the article here, https://allerpops.com/oral-probiotic-deficiency-may-cause-common-allergies/.
Briefly, our immune system is like a car with an accelerator to speed it up and brakes to slow it down. Pathogens stimulate the immune system so it can protect us from disease and probiotics (friendly bacteria) slow it down when there is no infection. Like the car, our immune system is designed to be parked most of the time by the brake — our probiotics. The beneficial bacteria send chemicals to our immune system to signal peacetime. This interaction benefits both the probiotics and the host so that they can live peacefully. Pathogens and the damage they cause in our body are natural accelerators of our immune system.
Without enough probiotics, the immune system will be out of control, like a car with no brakes. The consequences are allergies and other autoimmune diseases.
Therefore, when a baby comes to the world, the first thing to do is apply natural brakes to their immune system so that they can have a calm life ahead. The peace agreement between probiotics and our immune system is the grand foundation for a peaceful life.
They will need those brakes every place where the immune system is at work, such as the gut, airway and skin. Different probiotics are needed in each of these locations. These different probiotics use different nutrition available to them to produce chemicals that calm down the immune system.
Many parents might worry that if their baby’s immune system is calmed down, they might get sick. Do not worry. These interactions are limited by space and time. And the immune system is ready to jump into action in a timely manner when infection happens.
Restoration of those traditional practices is the way to reduce allergies for children.
Mothers are the natural suppliers of beneficial bacteria. Traditionally, close interactions between mother and infant at the start of life facilitate the transmission of probiotics between even if the mother is unaware that it is happening.
Unfortunately, modern life has led us away from those traditions, weakening the critical process of seeding proper microbiota for the baby.
The principle is to seed the child’s microbial communities with ones from mother, father, and sibling, NOT with ones from dog or cat or other environments. The major infant’s microbiota to be seeded include the ones in the gut, the airway, and on the skin. The following seven practices will help mom finish the job easily.
1. Give birth naturally. Many studies show that caesarean sections increase the odds of the baby having allergies such as atopic skin reaction. It is not completely understood how vaginal birth prevents allergies, but it is possible that the vaginal bacterial coat the skin, enter the airway and act as a placeholder and then yield to real probiotics coming later. Vaginal birth might give a smaller dose of gut bacteria to the newborn as well. These bacteria can be a good seed for their gut microbiota.
2. Breastfeed. Mom’s milk is not only the natural and unique food for the infant but also the food for their gut probiotics. Human milk oligosaccharide (HMO) is the evolutionary link between the human and bacteria world. HMO selectively promotes groups of bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium. Bifidobacterium are bacteria that do not hurt humans, can digest HMO and use it as energy to grow and produce chemical by-products that can be used by humans as energy and as a messenger of peace to the human immune system.
3. Mother and baby should stay indoors together ideally for a month. Traditionally in China, babies are confined with their mother for the first month, but sometimes for as long as 100 days. Previously, I did not understand why we have such a tradition and couldn’t care less about it when we had our children. Fortunately, our parents insisted on it. In the context of seeding proper microbiota for the infant, this tradition of keeping the mother and infant indoors is obviously beneficial: It keeps mom and infant in close contact to increase the chance for the baby to get the probiotics from mom, and prevents the infant from getting harmful bacteria from other sources. For the purpose of seeding infant’s microbiota, the confinement probably does not have to last for 100 days. A couple of weeks should be enough, especially with the help of the shortcut practices described below.
4. Sleep with the baby in the same bed. This will not only make it easier to breastfeed at night, but also reduce the baby’s stress from the significant environmental change. The close contact will help skin microbiota to be transferred from mom to infant.
5. Don’t bathe in the first week, (gently wiping infant with wet cloth should be enough). Babies are born with a white waxy coating, called the vernix. Don’t wash it off, because it protects the baby from infection. Don’t bathe the baby too frequently; two to three times a week should be enough. Frequent bathing causes dry skin which can lead to infection. Sweating is not a reason for a bath. Sweat produces conditions, such as high salt concentration, that promotes and sustains skin probiotics.
6. Chew your baby’s food. In China, parents traditionally chew food, then feed it to baby beginning at 2-3 months old. This is a little different than the American habit of using baby food. Add the following foods in these sequences: beginning with water, porridge, semisolid and then solid food. Feed baby a starch-rich diet first, then nuts, protein-rich foods, and veggies. Adult-chewed food is easy for babies to digest, prevents infection, and help establish oral and gut microbiota, which will likely prevent allergies. The caregiver should have no acute infection when doing mouth feeding.
7. Take AllerPops Prebiotic Lollipops AFTER finishing an antibiotics course. If the baby gets sick, antibiotic use cannot be avoided and is necessary for the baby’s safety. Unfortunately, oral probiotics can be suppressed and replaced by other bacteria that cannot communicate with the immune system. Therefore, it is likely a beneficial practice to take a couple of AllerPops after an antibiotic treatment.
Shortcut practices to seed the following microbiota:
1. Airway microbiota: hearty kisses daily.
2. Gut microbiota: natural birth, breastfeeding, and chewing food for the baby to add solid food. There are also quite a lot of probiotics supplements available online and in drug stores. They are usually probiotics for breastfeeding. At the population level, I do NOT promote the wide use of commercial probiotic products as this might reduce the diversity of the probiotics among us.
3. Skin microbiota: skin to skin contact as much as possible.
Here are some common questions about giving babies the probiotics that they need.
Q. How do I know my baby has enough probiotics?
A. The most common symptom of not having enough probiotics is eczema. The location of eczema might indicate where the baby needs more probiotics. An oral probiotic is not enough if eczema appears on head/neck area and gut probiotics if it is on the whole body.
Q. Can the baby have too many probiotics?
A. Yes. Thrush might indicate they have too many probiotics, which can be treated with baking soda. Please make sure thrush is not caused by other reason such as antibiotic usage.
You are doing perfectly if your baby has neither eczema nor thrush.
Q. What if mom has allergies? Can moms with allergies seed baby’s microbiota properly?
A. Yes, in most cases. Babies will not copy the microbiota from mom. They only get the seeds and selectively grow their own ones because they have different nutrition available to bacteria. I know almost all moms, including most moms with allergies, have the probiotics that babies need. You may have the father, sibling or other relatives to join the donor group if you have a concern in the extreme situation.
Q. What happened to the baby with the terrible allergies?
The couple and the baby came to our Friday dinner at church last week after his parents gave him the gut probiotics that I recommended three months ago. The baby’s skin had returned to a normal color, with some small patches of red and dry eczema mostly on his head and neck, which indicates AllerPops might help. He looks calm most of the time. His parents said there were several episodes of back and forth between allergies and infections, but it seems the baby is on the right track to reach the first peace agreement with the environment and himself, though it is 11 months late.
Restructuring microbiota is much more difficult than seeding a right microbiota from the start. Loving your baby at zero distance is the key for a good start.
Disclaimer: This blog reflects personal opinions of the authors and should not be used to as medical advices. We recommend you discuss the suggestions in the blog with your doctor before practicing them. More in Disclaimer.
1. Jatzlauk G, Bartel S, Heine H, Schloter M, Krauss-Etschmann S. 2017. Influences of environmental bacteria and their metabolites on allergies, asthma, and host microbiota. Allergy doi:10.1111/all.13220.
2. Ege MJ, Mayer M, Schwaiger K, Mattes J, Pershagen G, van Hage M, Scheynius A, Bauer J, von Mutius E. 2012. Environmental bacteria and childhood asthma. Allergy 67: 1565-1571.
3. von Mutius E. 2007. Allergies, infections and the hygiene hypothesis–the epidemiological evidence. Immunobiology 212: 433-439.