According to the National Institute of Health, the microbiome or balance of organisms in the digestive tract is responsible for postnatal development. Our children inherit two sets of essential genetic material from their parents. The first is the genetic information combined from mom and dad. The second is the genetics of thousands of strains of microbes that make up the balance of the the digestive tract – MICROBIOME. Our microbiome consists of trillions of microbes. These microbes play a key role in promoting development.
Probiotics are supplements that contain healthy microorganisms that populate the digestive tract. Good bacteria and other healthy microbes are essential for healthy digestion. Probiotics also regulate inflammation and immune function. Evidence is now pointing to inflammation as a causative factor in autism and ADHD. Probiotics and healthy digestion are very important in decreasing inflammation that can impact language, social and cognitive development.
When a child is in the womb, the environment is sterile. As the mother’s body prepares for birth, healthy bacteria begin to populate the fetus. During vaginal birth, more population occurs followed by solidification of a healthy digestive ecosystem through breastfeeding. The high rate of C-section births and antibiotics during labour can cause disruption the natural ecosystem of an infant’s digestive tract. Breastfeeding has been shown to decrease the incidence of ADHD and has been suggested as a preventative strategy in autism spectrum disorders.
Each child needs a healthy gut to promote immune function, regulate inflammation and support development. Many leading researchers in the autism field regard the destruction of natural flora as a causative factor in ASD and AD/HD.
There are thousands of strains of good bacteria that populate the intestines. It is very important that these strains of good bacteria live in balance with one another. If the good bacteria is out of balance or if too much “bad bacteria” is present, the condition is called DYSBIOSIS.
Imbalance or dysbiosis in the digestive tract has a number of negative effects on the body. Food allergies and sensitivities are one consequence of dysbiosis. For example, lactobacillus acidophilus is a strain of good bacteria that produces the enzyme lactase. Lactase breaks down the sugar in milk, lactose. Children who cannot digest lactose often have dysbiosis or a deficiency of good bacteria. There are other strains of bacteria that help the body break down casein and gluten. Some probiotics are good yeasts, that help to battle Candida.
Pharmaceutical probiotics are supplements that contain very high doses of healthy microorganisms. The probiotic recommendation for children with autism and/or ADHD, as well as other digestive complaints, is 15-30 billion a day. It is important to identify which strains of healthy bacteria are needed to repair and heal the digestive tract.