Protecting Baby From Eczema Starts In Pregnancy

Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Lactobacillus rhamnosus. One of the fascinating little critters that live in your gut to help keep you healthy. Image credit: Citizendium.

Probiotics are fascinating little things. Babies get their first mouthful from their mother’s vagina as they make their way out into the big wide world and continue to colonise their digestive system with the health promoting bacteria through breastmilk and skin contact with other people. It makes sense that birthing a baby through a healthy probiotic rich vagina and snuggling that baby on healthy probiotic rich skin and feeding that baby healthy, probiotic rich breastmilk will give that baby a healthy gut flora and keep the unhealthy bacteria under control. It’s a little less obvious (though used by natural therapists in this way for a while now…) that the probiotics a baby gets from it’s mother can also reduce the risk of that baby developing allergic type health problems  such as eczema, as shown in this study published last week  in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

About the study

Researchers said it’s possible that probiotics – which help to balance bacteria in the gut and prevent disease-causing strains from spreading – may influence babies’ health through immune cells that cross the placenta and then are later passed on through mums breast milk.

lead author Samuli Rautava of Turku University Central Hospital, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology says “Prevention regimen with specific probiotics administered to the pregnant and breast-feeding mother, that is, prenatally and postnatally, is safe and effective in reducing the risk of eczema in infants with allergic mothers”  ie. Probiotics are safe to take while pregnant and breastfeeding and they do work to prevent eczema.

The study involved 241 pregnant women, all who had a history of allergies which would put their babies at high risk of  eczema and other allergies. They were given one of two different probiotic strains. either Lactobacillus rhamnosus or Bifidobacterium longum given as a powder mixed with water once a day, or a probiotic free placebo powder.

The study ran through the final two months of pregnancy and the first two months of breastfeeding. Researchers then tracked their babies’ health for two years to see how many developed rashes.

By the end of the study, 71 percent of babies in the placebo group had had eczema at least once compared to 29 percent of babies whose mother took either of the probiotic combinations.

26 percent of  kids in the placebo group were diagnosed with chronic eczema, compared to 10 percent and six percent, respectively, of those in the two probiotic groups.

However, by age two the study didn’t show any obvious advantage to the probiotic use in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

“(The study) really shows a reduction in eczema from probiotics, which is such a simple and easy intervention for mothers,’ said Ruchi Gupta, an allergy an eczema researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

But she said it was still too soon to see if that reduction in eczema will be tied to a drop in asthma and more serious allergies later on, and Rautava himself said it was still not yet possible to make recommendations for routine use of probiotics.

Rautava and his colleagues didn’t find any evidence of probiotic-related side-effects in either mums or their babies, which is comforting news.

I’d like to point out that probiotics occur naturally in fermented foods and are easy to get from your diet if you make the effort. That’s a post for another day though…

You gotta love yourself!

Last Friday and Saturday I attended the AusMumpreneur conference in Sydney for mums in business. I got a huge amount of information and inspiration from the conference, but I think the biggest thing that I took away from it was the reminder that I must look after me. I rediscovered my inner goddess and when I got home I nurtured the bejezus out of her. My poor neglected inner goddess. Far from being nurtured over the past couple of years, she’s been shifted off to the corner and doused in boy germs. I’m the only female in my family of 6. It happened without me even realising it.

Like many women do, I’ve been putting myself last.

I’ve been having big trouble deciding which session was my favourite, they all gave me something unique and valuable but there was one moment that really spoke to me. I watched Kim Morrison (author & owner of the Twenty8 Aromatherapy range) enact her body boost ritual. Kim has a cute little bowl in which she puts a lovely organic carrier oil, a few drops of her favourite essential blend & 4 squirts of magensium oil spray. She then proceeded to show us how she rubs this concoction all over her body while telling each body part how much she loves it. It went something along the lines of “Oh leggy leggy leg, you’re so strong, I love you”. “Oh lovely healthy tummy, I love you”. “Oh boobs… you’re so nice and perky, I love you”.  She swears she’s done this EVERY day for the last 20 years.

I realised that the most loving thing I do for my body is brush my teeth… I decided then and there that I need to show my body some real proper love.  I had to buy Kim’s book, Like Chocolate for Women. And when I got home, I had to show me some love.

And here’s what I did.

I waited until the munchikins were tucked up in bed then I ran a bath. I got a candle, I dumped a stack of ginger and chamomile tincture in the bath, I put some classical music on, I found a ginger beer in the back of the fridge (the only alcohol I could find), I got a cute little glass bowl and put some ground coffee, lemon juice and olive oil in it. I got some jojoba oil, an essential oil blend & my new Twenty8 magnesium oil spray ready next to another cute little bowl.

As I was looking for the fluffiest towel in the house, my 12 year old got out of bed and informed me he needed to go to the toilet. I asked him to turn the bath off for me and continued my search for a fluffy towel which I had to extend to the clothesline. By the time I’d given up trying to find a fluffy towel and settled for a manky towel, I went back to my bath to find Mr 12 still locked in the bathroom. Despair set in as I realised he was stinking up my sanctuary then delight replaced it when I realised I was about to have my first bath alone since before Lachie came along, over a year and a half ago. The candle would take care of boy stink.

I massaged my face with the coffee, lemon juice & olive oil concoction, I washed my hair, I soak and chilled. I skulled my ginger beer and wished I had another. I got out, body brushed with my manky towel  and did Kim’s body boost ritual. I felt great.

I got to have a bit of  a read of Like Chocolate for Women yesterday. It is as it claims to be- A celebration of womenhood and the ultimate self care handbook packed with hundreds of tips and ideas to help all women live the life they want, reminding them that self-care is not selfish – it’s essential! There’s a heavy lean on aromatherapy but a whole lot more to offer too. I got a signed copy for both myself AND for a blog reader.

Leave me a comment below telling me how you show yourself love. Do you have any rituals? When was the last time you nurtured your inner goddess?

I’ll choose the winner right before my next Sunday soak. Somewhere around 9pm on Sunday September 16.

Homemade Teething Rusks

My little 15 month old Lachie is teething up a storm at the moment. Mother nature is testing his limits as he sprouts 4 teeth all at once including 3 molars. On top of that, or maybe because of that, he has a snotty nose and frequent poo that seems to resemble battery acid in the way that it’s been burning his poor little bottom. He’s become somewhat like the family puppy, gnawing on anything that will fit in his mouth.

After several days of puppy dog behaviour, I decided to whip up a batch of the teething rusks I used to make for my big boys when they were babies. They are very simple to make, work a treat, Lachie likes them and are a much tastier and healthier option than the refined white wheat flour rusks you get in the supermarket.

Here’s my recipe 🙂

What you need:

10 slices of rye bread (you can use any kind of bread really, I’ve used rice bread for my babies when they were younger)

2 cups of miso soup (I use miso paste in water to make a broth but you can also just use those packets of dried miso soup mix so long as it doesn’t contain artificial flavours and flavour enhancers)

1 Tablespoon each of finely ground sesame seeds or sunflower seeds

What to do:

Cut the bread slices into little fist sized soldiers

Mix the sesame and sunflower seeds together in a  bowl

Brush some of the miso soup over the bread

Press the bread slices into the seed mix

Bake in a low oven (around 150 C) for about 11/2 hours until they resemble dried out dog bikkies

Cool ’em and put them in an airtight container

One batch of these makes around 30 rusks and will keep much longer than it takes for those teeth to sprout!