How Your Gut Microbiome Affects Your Health From Birth (And What You Can Do For Your Children)

In this episode, Functional Medicine Nutritionist Brooke Scheller interviews pregnancy and pediatric specialist, Dr. Kyle Klim about how the gut microbiome from birth can affect health throughout the lifespan. This is especially useful for women who are pregnant or looking to become pregnant, or those looking to find the root cause of some of their symptoms.


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Hey there, welcome back to another episode of Integrative Wellness radio. This is Brooke Scheller, the functional medicine nutritionist. Today I am here with Dr. Kyle Klim. Dr. Kyle is one of our chiropractors at Integrative Wellness group. Dr. Kyle specializes in pregnancy and pediatrics and today we're going to talk a little bit about of the health of the microbiome of gastrointestinal system and really how that begins at birth and how that's going to affect, really our entire lives. It's going to affect our immune system. We're going to talk about all that today.

One of the important things that I want to point out is you might be listening, you might be someone who has children, you might be seeking to have children soon, or you might be an adult who has already gone thorough that phase. I think it's really great because it really applies to everybody, because we think about how important the immune system is and how important it is to have this healthy balance in our gut. Really, we can look back, looking at an adult we can look back and say, okay, were you born a C-section, were you breast fed, and really all those things how they affect your life.

Dr. Kyle and I are going to go through today the lifespan and talking more about how this can really impact your health. I know that Dr. Kyle actually recently watched a movie. I didn't know if you wanted to mention that movie also, but I'll have Dr. Kyle introduce himself and tell you more about wat he does here.

Dr. Kyle:
Hello everyone, this is Dr. Kyle. I am the pregnancy and pediatric chiropractor at Innovative Wellness Group, and the reason I like to focus on this area is because I have been under chiropractic care my entire life and I have found the benefits throughout my lifespan and wanted to be able to give that back to the community. In practicing more and more and the more research that has come out and the more research that I've been reading, it's been amazing about the information that has come out about how early our immune system, our cognition and basically every function in our bodies can start.

If I can help families create healthy happy babies, beginning even before pregnancy, then that is my goal and that is some of the things that we're going to talk about today.

I think it's important that you mentioned before pregnancy because really the mother's body and the nutrient status and if there are any heavy metals and chemicals and things present in the mother than that can certainly affect the baby too. You're right, it really begins before conception.

Dr. Kyle:
We used to believe that the baby grew and developed in a sterile environment in the womb, but recent research has come out that there are some small bacterial colonies that are present in the placenta as well as in the rest of the womb as well. That being said, we have to consider that it's very important how mom is taking care of herself throughout the entire pregnancy because that will affect the health of the baby when the baby is born.

Yeah. I think it's important that you mention mom's own gastrointestinal health, because what we do say is mom's bacteria really is going to get passed down to the baby. Like you said, we used to think that this was happening during the actual birthing process, which we'll talk about more, but now it's actually occurring throughout the entire growth process, is what you're saying. Correct?

Dr. Kyle:
That is correct.

Yeah. That's definitely going to have some effect on the immune system and how the baby is developing, how the organ systems are developing. Another thing that's important to point out at that point too I think is that now a days with exposure to toxins and heavy metals and things like that, is also being passed through the birth canal. All of that is really affecting how the baby is developing, cognitive function and all of that stuff really beginning from the beginning.

Dr. Kyle:
That's absolutely correct. We just have to be aware that sometimes modern medicine has its place and there are certain interventions that may be necessary in very specific cases, but there's been some over-utilization of some of those things which has been detrimental to our health, in not only in the short term but in the long term. We just have to be really aware of not only what they are, but what are some of the things we can do in order to avoid them.

Right. Right. Let's talk about natural birth versus C-section, because as a woman it's scary to think about a natural birth and maybe a C-section sounds a little more desirable and I know that maybe some people choose that route even if they don't necessarily need it. It really is important, it really will have an impact on the health, so why don't you go ahead and tell us more about that.

Dr. Kyle:
Sure. I'll start with a vaginal delivery, if you will. As the baby is born through the mother's birth canal, there is a huge amount of colonization of mom's good bacteria that is essentially spread all over the baby's body, into their mouth, which is extremely important and beneficial to again, as we said, the growth and development and the immune system of the baby. This is something that we really really want to make sure that happens if at all, if we can.

If we compare that to a C-section, as the baby is taken out of the womb, via a C-section, that baby does not receive those beneficial bacteria that it normally would have if it came from the birth canal. This may not seem like a huge deal, but there is a strong percentage of bacteria that the baby does not receive, therefore the baby's microbiome is not established properly to the highest extent that I can be, which puts it not only at short term risk for a few things, but also some long term risks as well.

Some of those short term side effects from a C-section delivery what we have noticed are certain things such as a higher risk of asthma, other breathing problems, type I diabetes, Celiac and Chron's disease. These are short term things and we may thing okay, they may be temporary or we can deal with these and maybe it's not quite as big of a deal as it could be, but now we are having some longer term studies that are showing that children that are born via C-section now are those people that are developing chronic autoimmune disorders that we could have avoided if we had done some things differently during the birth process.

I like how you said if we had done some things different during the birth process, because I'm sure there are people out there thinking that you have to have a C-section, you have to have a C-section, but one of the biggest things I know that you do is helping mom how to be equipped on how they can prevent that C-section. Do you want to elaborate on some of those things?

Dr. Kyle:
Sure. This can be a much larger topic, so I'll just go over it briefly. One of the most important things, again, is like I said, just knowing what those interventions are and those strategies in order to help avoid them. One of those things is to create a birth plan which has all of your wishes on it so your birth team knows that you want to have as natural a birth as possible, and then after that birth happens, some of the things you also want to happen immediately after birth.

Some of those things are, skin on skin contact. As the baby comes out of the birth canal, if you can have your baby on skin on skin contact immediately after birth, this is another way where there will be some colonization of microbes from mother's skin onto baby's skin. Skin on skin contact also helps regulate the baby's temperature, the baby's blood sugar, it helps with attachment, it helps breastfeeding become easier, it decreases the baby's stress, and this also helps some hormone release and balancing in the mother as well.

As the baby begins to breastfeed, the components of breast milk are absolutely amazing. There's so, so many. There are specific antibodies, immune components microbes, sugars, proteins, everything under the sun that's going to be very very important to the baby's gut and microbiome. One of those things that used to be a little bit confusing are called oligosaccharides. These are sugars that are indigestible in the baby's gut. Why would they be in breast milk if the baby can't utilize them? What we have found out is that these oligosaccharides are actually food for the good bacteria in the baby's gut, what we would call a prebiotic. As we are doing more and more research, we are finding that the more natural birth that you can have, it will be more beneficial to your baby's microbiome immediately which will set your baby up to be happier and healthier throughout the lifespan.

All right. Jumping to a C-section, I know that you have some tips of some things that people can do if they do have a C-section, but we were having a conversation a little while before this and talking about really interesting concept, something that I actually hadn't thought much about, and that's having to do with multiple lines of C-sections. Why don't you go ahead and tell us more about that.

Dr. Kyle:
Absolutely. Let's think about a couple generations back if you will. Even as little as 20 or 30 years, C-sections were not as common. A natural, vaginal delivery was something that was normal and common. Let's just say for easy numbers' sake, that if you were born via the birth canal, you received 100% of your mother's microbes and your mother received 100% of her mother's microbes. Now if you were then delivered via C-section, maybe you only got 40-50% of those microbes. As C-sections become more and more common, then maybe 25 years down the road when you begin to have children, you deliver C-section again and your baby only receives about half of the microbes that you have, you can see how very quickly over the course of only maybe 2 or 3 generations, the exponential decline of the biodiversity in our microbes that we're receiving. If we don't have the diversity within our guts, we are so much more susceptible to so many more diseases, and that's why it's really, really important to be aware of how you wold like your delivery to be.

If someone does have a C-section, why don't you give us your tips on that.

Dr. Kyle:
This is also where having a birth plan is important. If a C-section is necessary, you would want to include on your birth plan that you would like to have immediate skin on skin contact, because that will again, help confer some of those microbes from mother's skin and immediately breastfeed as well. There's also some newer techniques that have been in research and experimented with and one of those is called swabbing. What that is is a sterile gauze swab is inserted in the birth canal about an hour before the C-section.

When the C-section is about to begin, this swab is then removed and placed in a sterile container. As soon as the baby is born, the baby's essentially bathed in the mother's microbiome from the birth canal. What they have done is they have kept track of these babies, C-section by itself versus C-section via swabbing and what they have found is babies that have been delivered via C-section and have been swabbed have a similar microbiome of babies that have been born vaginally. This is huge. This is very, very importnat. This is something, again, that moms and parents need to be aware of if and when a C-section becomes necessary, this is another technique that you can have in your back pocket, if your OB will do it, to make sure that your baby is as healthy as they possibly can be.

Yeah. That's really important, because I think as you were mentioning C-section, I was thinking about how I've read about when the baby doesn't get the mother's bacteria, it's going to get some type of bacteria, and you'd rather it be mom's bacteria than the hospital bacteria, because you never know what's going to be floating around in there either.

I do want to give a brief general overview again, because we see so many people in here and even children in their younger ages and teenagers and going up into adulthood and how it can really impact their health over the long term, looking all the way back to birth. A lot of things like Dr. Kyle mentioned, autoimmune conditions and Chron's and asthma and gastrointestinal imbalances. Things like anxiety and depression and all those things have links to the gastrointestinal system.

It's really important, I think just to have this information in your arsenal, because there are things that you can do even after the baby has been born, even after you're in adulthood and you are experiencing some of these things. If you were born a C-section and you have been diagnosed with any of these conditions, there's definitely ways that you can impact your gastrointestinal health. It's usually a matter of getting some testing done and figuring out if there are imbalances, if there are overgrowth of bacteria or yeast or if there are lack of probiotics.

This is definitely something to consider with a child, too, especially if they're younger and they are starting to present with some signs or symptoms.

Dr. Kyle:
Absolutely. Basically what we're seeing is that the preparation to become pregnant and that time in your life, is literally without exaggeration the most important time, not only in your life but honestly in your baby's. In order for you to conceive, raise, and bring healthy baby into the world, you've got to be as healthy as you possibly can, because if you don't have your best possible birth outcome, your baby may not be healthy throughout the lifespan. That microbiome is established very very early on. We want to make sure that we can help you do that in any way that we can.

Yeah. We do have a lot of really awesome resources here at Integrative Wellness Group, if anybody is listening and this sounds familiar to you, again, whether you are a mother who's looking to become pregnant, you have young children, or again if you might be experiencing some of these conditions as well. Thank you so much for listing to Integrative Wellness Radio. Please subscribe to us on iTunes Radio and if you like us feel free to leave a rating or review.