Learning Center > Newborn Immune System Development Starts with a Healthy Gut

Newborn Immune System Development Starts with a Healthy Gut

By: Dr. Jennifer Bragg

Neonatologist, VP Clinical Implementation

Did you know up to 80% of your immune system lives in your gut? That’s why the key to good immune health starts with good gut health, especially for vulnerable newborns.

Are there ways to set them up for good health from the start? The answer is yes! There are several ways to promote good immune health in your newborn. Many of us already know about the importance of breast milk to give newborns important antibodies. But there’s a lesser known, yet helpful way to complement breast milk that also works to support gut health. More on that ahead. First, let’s explore the world of gut health and the microbiome.

What is the “microbiome” and “gut health”?
The microbiome has become a hot topic recently but what exactly is it? Essentially, the microbiome is a collection of bacteria, fungi and other types of organisms that live in and on our bodies. One important microbiome is in our gut.

What’s so amazing is that our gut microbiome is constantly changing and can vary based on what we eat, medications we take, exercise and our environment. In adults, the microbiome is extremely complex. But in babies, it’s much simpler, which makes it even more essential to pay attention from the very start.

Don’t babies get everything they need from breast milk?
Researchers at University of California Davis were interested in studying breast milk but in doing so, discovered that there is a specific bacterium missing from most infants born in the United States known as Bifidobacteria infantis. They also identified the strain Bifidobacteria infantis EVC001, which uniquely works with breast milk to populate a newborn’s gut with these healthy “good” bacteria.

While the intent is good and of course necessary, modern health practices have inadvertently eradicated delicate bacterium like Bifidobacteria from our society. Now, only 1 in 10 babies born in the US today have this important bacterium. Yet, newborns born in cultures with lower rates of cesarean sections or antibiotics have higher rates.

How can we set up babies for good immune health?
While we don’t yet know all the intricacies of the immune system, physicians do know that families can support their newborn’s gut health from the start. At birth, babies have a clean slate, which presents an opportunity to populate their gut with healthy “good” bacteria. A few other steps to consider include:

  • Provide your newborn with breast milk to promote immune development. Even just some breast milk supplies important antibodies and proteins to help fight off infection and support immune system development.
  • Consider supplementing with Evivo infant probiotic, which has been clinically shown to help babies fully maximize nutrients in breast milk.

The newborn period is incredibly special but keeping your newborn healthy can be challenging, especially when there are older siblings who might attend school or daycare. Giving your baby even a little breast milk with a probiotic containing B. infantis goes a long way in supporting healthy immune system development.


About the Author
Jennifer Bragg, MD, Neonatologist, VP, Clinical Implementation

Dr. Bragg is the Vice President of Clinical Implementation at Infinant Health and also serves as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Director of a NICU Follow-up Program. She received her MD from New York University School of Medicine and completed her pediatric residency and perinatal neonatal fellowship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. As a neonatologist, she is passionate about helping children reach their full potential through a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to care. She is most proud of being a mom to two children. When not working, she is often found cheering them on from the sidelines at sporting events.