3 questions to learn if your baby's gut is healthy.
By Sophie Hirsh, Romper
A big part of being a new parent is, unfortunately, poop. You change your baby's diaper a million times a day. You scrape their poop into the toilet. You wipe poop off their butt (and their back and their front and sometimes even THEIR FACE? OH MY GOD HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?) Doctors have long advised parents to keep track of baby poop, monitoring things like frequency, consistency, and color. And because baby poop has been studied so much over the past century, scientists were able to make a pretty important observation about the way baby poop has changed over time. In fact, according to a new study, pH levels in baby poop are very revealing.
The study, published in the journal mSphere, studied baby poop's pH levels from 1926 up until the present day. The researchers reviewed 14 clinical studies between then and 2017 that looked at 312 "healthy breastfed infants." Over time, they found, pH levels in baby poop have steadily increased since 1926, picking up even more steam in the years since 1980. In general, pH in baby poop changed from 5.0 to 6.5 since 1926, and researchers believe this increase may cause a microbial imbalance, something that can lead to health problems like "certain types of cancer; autoimmune diseases like thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes," according to CBS News.
But let's back up a bit and explain what that all means. Firstly, as TODAY explained, pH measures how acidic or alkaline something is, and these levels can reveal information about a baby's microbiome. That's noteworthy because their microbiome plays a very important role in the processes of digestion and nutrition according to research published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Furthermore, the microbes found in microbiomes "contribute metabolic functions, protect against pathogens, educate the immune system, and, through these basic functions, affect directly or indirectly most of our physiologic functions." As TODAY put it, microbiome help "protect us from disease," so its overall health is important... Read more on Romper
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