Rashes, Reactions, and Respiratory Woes: Are They Related to Your Child's Gut?


Our gut health report gives you deep insights into your baby's gut health. See a sample
Our gut health report gives you deep insights into your baby's gut health. See a sample

Presented by Tiny Health x EmBeba x Holle

This month, Tiny Health is proud to kick off an educational campaign in partnership with our friends at EmBeba and Holle. In this article, we’ll discover the connection between gut health, eczema, allergies, and asthma, and provide useful tips to support your little ones’ well-being from the inside out. Let’s dive in!

Common rashes and reactions in infancy

As parents, we all want the very best for our children, especially when it comes to their health. And nothing is more distressing than a mystery rash, frightening allergic reaction, or potentially long-term health issues popping up alongside your child’s developmental milestones. 

From those early sleep deprived months when you are adjusting to family life with your little one, baby eczema can emerge. This uncomfortable skin condition brings on inflamed, dry patches of skin that can be downright itchy. It’s the most common skin condition among babies and toddlers, with 60% of cases starting within your baby’s first year of life [1].

As your baby grows and you start introducing solid foods, a host of new allergies can also make their appearance. This is becoming more and more common, with about 3% of babies under age 1, and 8% of children affected by food allergies [2]. Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint the trigger, like when you introduce one new type of food at a time and the reaction quickly follows. But oftentimes, as fellow parents will tell you, allergic reactions can be more complicated than that. 

What you might not realize is that eczema and food allergies can be related. In fact, babies diagnosed with eczema within their first year are 11 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy in the same year [3]! These are the first steps in what we call the atopic march, a progression of diseases that start in our immune system. 

Unfortunately, this progression doesn’t end with food allergies. The next step is development of asthma and/or allergic rhinitis (also known as hay fever) [4], [5]. And while a person can develop asthma later on, 80% of cases develop in the first 6 years of life [6]. 

The good news is, there are some things parents can do to help stop this progression in its tracks. We’ll give you a hint: look to the gut. 

How do eczema, allergies, and asthma relate to the gut?

As we mentioned previously, atopic eczema, food allergies, hay fever and asthma are related to the immune system. But what does that have to do with a child’s gut—the community of trillions of microbes living in their intestines? Well, practically everything! This is because up to 80% of our immune system is in the gut [7]. And the first 1,000 days of life is a crucial time in baby gut development when their digestive and immune system gets its “training” [8], [9]. 

In other words, the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes living in your child’s tummy are teaching their immune system how to respond to the nutrients, environment, and microbes they encounter in their everyday lives. 

Naturally then, imbalances or “poor training” in your child’s gut at an early age can lead to less-than-ideal responses to foods and other things in the environment, like rashes and allergic reactions. So, gut health and rashes or allergic reactions may be more related than you think. 

Keep reading to learn how to identify these imbalances, address them, and reduce your little one’s risks of developing these conditions in the first place.

How to find out if your baby or child has a gut imbalance

If you search for gut health issues on the web, you’re likely to be bombarded by ads for probiotic supplements, specialty infant formula, or clean / healthier-for-you toddler snacks. It’s hard to know if something is a gimmick or if these products will actually help your child. You might also wonder, are there ways to naturally support your child’s gut to keep them at their healthiest?

At Tiny Health, we like to say, “test, don’t guess.” The only way to truly detect imbalances in your child’s gut is through a stool test (aka, sending in a sample of their poop to be tested!) Our tests can detect over 120,000 different bacteria, fungi, viruses, parasites, and archaea found in the gut. And we give you a comprehensive report of all microbes present in your sample, down to those making up just a tiny fraction (0.05%) of the community! 

Our goal is to give you a picture of the overall community in your child’s gut and if anything is out of balance. We share what the latest research shows about your child’s potential to develop conditions in the future. Then we give you a personalized Action Plan with practical nutrition, supplement, and lifestyle advice to help you address any imbalances. We even have microbiome specialists available to walk you through your results 1-on-1.

In other words, enough with the guesswork. Our probiotic recommendations are based on the exact strains of bacteria your child’s gut needs. And what foods and environmental exposures your little one can benefit from, to support beneficial bacteria and crowd out more unfriendly types.

This is a totally different approach from a typical pediatrician visit, where a practitioner looks at (or tests for) symptoms, makes a diagnosis, and recommends medications or ointments for treatment. 

Let’s be clear—testing the microbiome is not a diagnosis or cure for eczema, allergies, or asthma. The causes of these conditions are complex and not entirely understood, from genetics and environment to immune system abnormalities and the microbiome [10]–[12]. But testing can certainly help identify gut health as a factor in these conditions, and give you a plan of action to know what to do next.

How to support infant and child gut health from the inside out 

While you wait for your gut test results to arrive, there are still plenty of great ways to support your infant’s or child’s gut health, no matter if they’re dealing with eczema, allergies, or something else. Let’s cover a few simple tips:

  • Breastfeeding: If you are able, breastfeeding is an excellent way to introduce beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus to your baby’s gut. 
  • Avoiding Unnecessary Antibiotics: Antibiotics are important and can be life-saving, but they kill beneficial bacteria while they’re going after harmful microbes. Minimizing antibiotic exposure during pregnancy and infancy supports a baby’s microbiome development.
  • Environmental Exposure: Getting outdoors and interacting with pets and farm animals helps your child develop a strong and balanced immune system.
  • Eating Plants: Once your baby is eating solid foods, encourage them to eat a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These foods are high in fiber and can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Natural probiotics: Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods can help increase the diversity in an older child’s gut.

Learn more about childhood gut health

Did we cover everything you could possibly know about baby or child microbiome in this article, including how it relates to skin rashes and allergic reactions? Not at all. Fortunately, we’ve got plenty of helpful tips and scientific deep dives to help you learn more on the Tiny Health blog.

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[9] H. Renz, P. G. Holt, M. Inouye, A. C. Logan, S. L. Prescott, and P. D. Sly, “An exposome perspective: Early-life events and immune development in a changing world,” J Allergy Clin Immun, vol. 140, no. 1, pp. 24–40, 2017, doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.05.015.

[10] S. M. Langan, A. D. Irvine, and S. Weidinger, “Atopic dermatitis,” Lancet, vol. 396, no. 10247, pp. 345–360, Aug. 2020, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)31286-1.

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