Bifidobacterium infantis is possibly the best known of the Bifidobacterium family and is essential for good health in both babies and adults. It is one of the primary inhabitant of the digestive tract of newborn infants.
What is B infantis?
It comes from a well known family of probiotics - the Bifidobacteria - and is one of the best. Numerous medical studies have proven its worth against some health problems. As always, remember that the results for most probiotics are strain specific - this means you need to find the strain that was used in a particular study to have the best chance of getting a similar result.
What does it do?
Babies are born with a sterile gut but quickly develop their own population of bacteria acquired during the birthing process and then from their mother's milk and other food sources.
Over recent years, a theory called the "hygiene hypothesis" proposes that the increase in allergic diseases, including asthma, atopic dermatitis, and atopic rhinitis in many developed countries is through the lack of early exposure to bacteria.
A scientific study showed a clear difference between the numbers of Bifidobacterium infantis in the feces of babies in Ghana (where there is a low occurence of allergic diseases) and in the feces of children born in more affluent countries (where there are high rates of allergies). It is clear that the bifidobacterial species to which the immune systems of the children were exposed in early life were different in Ghana than in more developed countries1.
These differences in bacteria type were explained through differences in hospital deliveries, cesarean sections, special-care baby unit admissions, smaller family size, widespread use of antibiotics, good hygiene, and differences in maternal diet in affluent countries compared to Ghana.
And whilst all these "improvements" should be good things, it is clear that they are a double edged sword.
Bifidobacterium infantis is vital for the health of babies when the foundations of a healthy immune system is being built. Obviously, if a mother is lacking this good bacteria then she will not be passing sufficient numbers of it on to her baby.
As one of the scientists stated: "Either the lack of exposure of babies to particular bifidobacterial species or elimination of bifidobacterial species from the gut through the use of antibiotics, or both, might alter the exposure of children to important bacterial antigens at a critical time in the maturation of the immune system."1
And the effect of Bifidobacterium infantis - or a lack of it - continues on through life. The proper establishment of the correct gut microflora as a baby creates the foundation for the non-inflammatory gut in adult life.
One strain of this useful bacteria has shown to be of extra value.
In a 2009 review of scientific studies on IBS probiotic treatment, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 showed a lot of improvement in abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, distention of the stomach, and/or bowel movement difficulty2.
This is the strain that is found in the Align. See below where to buy it.
Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 has been shown to prevent invasion of the gut lining by one of the bacteria thought to be responsible for inflammatory bowel conditions such as IBS and reduced inflammation in the gut.3
In this study the relief of IBS symptoms was comparable to that seen with well-known drugs but without the side effects.
The scientist stated: "The deliberate consumption of one commensal organism, Bifidobacterium infantis 35624, resulted in the induction of Treg cells which protected the host from excessive inflammation during the course of infection as evidenced by reduced pro-inflammatory cytokine production, reduced T cell proliferation, reduced dendritic cell co-stimulatory molecule expression."
It is clear that Bifidobacterium infantis is an important good bacteria for babies and also for those with IBS and gastrointestinal problems.
Align Digestive Care Probiotic Supplement, Capsules 35624 strain
VSL #3 Capsules (60 caps) unspecified strain - effective but expensive
And if you live in the UK you can buy Align from your local Amazon.
FOR BABIES AND INFANTS
Natren Life Start Infantis, 2.5-Ounce /> NLS strain
1. Sarah L. Young, Mary A. Simon, Margaret A. Baird, Gerald W. Tannock, Rodrigo Bibiloni, Kate Spencely, Juliette M. Lane, Penny Fitzharris, Julian Crane, Ian Town,4Emmanuel Addo-Yobo, Clare S. Murray, and Ashley Woodcock. Bifidobacterial Species Differentially Affect Expression of Cell Surface Markers and Cytokines of Dendritic Cells Harvested from Cord Blood. Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2004 July; 11(4): 686-690. doi: 10.1128/CDLI.11.4.686-690.2004.
2. Brenner DM, Moeller MJ, Chey WD, Schoenfeld PS. The utility of probiotics in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: a systematic review. Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Apr;104(4):1033-49; quiz 1050. Epub 2009 Mar 10
3. Caitlin O'Mahony, Paul Scully, David O'Mahony, Sharon Murphy, Frances O'Brien, Anne Lyons, Graham Sherlock, John MacSharry, Barry Kiely, Fergus Shanahan, and Liam O'Mahony. Commensal-Induced Regulatory T Cells Mediate Protection against Pathogen-Stimulated NF-?B Activation. PLoS Pathog. 2008 August; 4(8): e1000112. Published online 2008 August 1. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000112.
4. Deguchi Y, Morishita T, Mutai M. Comparative Studies on Synthesis of Water-soluble Vitamins among Human Species of Bifidobacteria. Agricultural and Biological Chemistry 49(1), 13-19, 1985.
5. Atte von Wright, Terttu Vilpponen-Salmelab, Marta Pages Llopisa, Kevin Collinsc, Barry Kielyc, Fergus Shanahanc and Colum Dunne. The survival and colonic adhesion of Bifidobacterium infantis in patients with ulcerative colitis. International Dairy Journal Volume 12, Issues 2-3, 2002, Pages 197-200.