Baby’s biome after C-section delivery; How risky is lead exposure?

Q: I gave birth with a C-section recently and have heard that when a baby doesn’t pass through the vaginal canal, it is deprived of essential microbes that build a healthy gut. If that’s true, how can I make up for that so my child is as healthy as possible? – Donna R., Richmond, Va., A: Great question. For a long time we’ve heard that the transfer of vaginal and fecal bacteria doesn’t happen during birth by C-section and that may create a serious deficit in a baby’s healthy gut biome. Turns out the body is smarter than that! A study published in Cell Host & Microbe reveals that moms who give birth via C-section transfer microbes to their babies using alterative routes.

The researchers collected skin, nose, saliva and gut microbiome samples from the babies two hours after they were born and when they were one day old, one week old, two weeks old and one month old. They also collected microbiome samples from new moms’ skin, breastmilk, nose, throat and fecal and vaginal areas. They compared the colonies and discovered that when microbe transfer is blocked via one route – as it is in a C-section birth – the body makes sure that microbes are transferred through breastmilk and other routes. Ultimately just under 60 percent of an infant biome is transferred from the mother, no matter what the method of birth. However, it does mean that breastfeeding and taking a probiotic are especially important for C-section babies – the longer the better. And I recommend all moms take a probiotic at least during their last trimester and for 90 days after giving birth.

If you need help with breastfeeding you can receive excellent coaching from the Office of Women’s Health. Call the OWH Helpline (800-994-9662) to talk with breastfeeding peer counselors who can answer your questions in English or Spanish, support you through breastfeeding challenges, and connect you with other resources, such as nursingmoms. net and breastfeedingusa. org.

Q: There’s been a lot of news about lead in everything from baby food to dark chocolate. How worried should I be? – Jake P., St. Louis, Mo., A: Lead contamination is especially dangerous for kids younger than 21 because of harm done to brain development and the nervous system, resulting learning and behavior problems, and damage to cognitive potential. There’s been dramatic evidence of such contamination in water systems, as we’ve seen in Flint, Michigan, and we know that homes with paint from before 1978 can produce lead dust that affects children and teens. Recently there was even news about lead in prepared baby foods.

Examination of 400 jars of organic and nonorganic products revealed root vegetables had the highest concentration of lead. Reducing the amount of infant rice-based cereal you feed a child is also smart, as is rotating the foods you feed your child, even if they’re organic or homemade. Experts also say not to give children fruit juices, which can contain a variety of heavy metals; stick with whole fruits.

Adults can also be affected by lead in the environment, at work, and in spices and foods. It is associated with high blood pressure and can damage the brain, kidney and reproductive organs. One recent alarm concerned lead in cocoa powder and chocolate – especially dark chocolate. A Consumer Reports analysis of 28 brands of chocolate found that eating just an ounce of 23 of them would put an adult over the daily safe level of lead and/ or other heavy metals. You are safe, however, eating less than an ounce a day. Get details of the safest brands to enjoy at ConsumerReports. org; search for “Lead and Cadmium Could Be in Your Dark Chocolate.”

The bottom line: Be smart, not upset. If it’s a risk, test your home for lead paint dust and your water for lead from the pipes. A blood test can tell you if your child has been exposed. Feed kids – and yourself – a varied diet.

Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is “The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow.” Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email questions@ GreatAgeReboot. com.

( c) 2023 Michael Roizen, M. D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.