The Science behind Tiny Health
Living in your intestines is a community of trillions of tiny organisms that play an important role in immune development and health throughout life. This is your microbiome. The first 1,000 days of life - 9 months of pregnancy and a baby’s first two years - lay the foundation for the development of a healthy gut microbiome. The bacteria that first colonize a baby’s gut come from the mother. During pregnancy, with a vaginal birth, and during breastfeeding (if accessible), a mother passes on to her baby the microbiomes of her skin, gut, birth canal, and breast milk.
This sharing of the mother’s microbiome with her baby is essential in establishing a healthy microbiome. But if this early colonization doesn’t go as planned, it turns out there is an increased lifelong risk for chronic disease. This includes eczema, asthma, allergies, obesity, and diabetes.
"If we miss the window at birth then the immune system never matures correctly. If you upset this process in early life then we may have consequences later and that can lead to production of disease later in life."Prof. Rodney Dietert
Professor Emeritus of Immunotoxicology, Cornell University
Scientific Advisor at Tiny Health
It may come as no surprise that what we eat shapes the gut microbiome. What this means for a baby is that a mother’s diet can have a direct impact on her baby’s microbiome. Besides diet, a healthy gut microbiome is influenced by:
• Birth mode
• Diet and nutrition
• Antibiotic use and medication
• Environmental exposure
• Contact with animals
Recent research suggests that challenges to the gut microbiome during this critical development window - such as the use of antibiotics - might disrupt the gut’s internal balance, impacting overall health.
Birth mode is one of the most significant factors that influence the baby’s microbiome.
The early gut microbiome of babies born vaginally is markedly different from that of babies born by c-section. Because of the microbes they’re initially exposed to, babies born by c-section may miss important healthy bacteria.
C-section and the use of antibiotics in early life (while sometimes life-saving) have been associated with the development of asthma and allergies. More recently, antibiotic exposure has been linked to a higher risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.
Breastfeeding is best, but for many families exclusively breastfeeding is not possible. Breastfeeding shapes the baby’s gut microbiome, promoting the colonization of healthy bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria. Bifidobacteria depend on human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which are sugars found in human milk that help feed these healthy bacteria. At Tiny Health we want babies born and fed in all circumstances to have the best chance to have a healthy microbiome and believe that information along with evidence-based recommendations is the best path to achieve optimal health for all babies.
Digestion of HMOs by Bifidobacteria (as well as other bacteria) leads to the production of lactate and short-chain fatty acids like acetate, which makes it hard for harmful bacteria to survive; while stimulating the immune system and promoting the presence of a healthy microbiome. In contrast to the adult gut microbiome, which is stable, the baby’s microbiome continues to develop and change throughout the first 3 years of life until it reaches full maturity by the age of 5.
The first 1,000 days of life is when parents have the biggest impact on a baby’s gut microbiome and lifelong health.
At Tiny Health, we provide you with insight and a blueprint to ensure a healthy microbiome during your baby’s first 1,000 days. To help you with this, we perform next-generation metagenomic sequencing, a high-resolution technique that sequences the DNA from every microbe present in the stool. This allows us to identify which bacteria are present, the relative abundance of each microbial population, and their metabolic function.
Our team of highly experienced and dedicated microbiome researchers will provide useful insights into your and your baby’s microbiome and suggest personalized actions that may improve your baby’s gut health. Our understanding of the science of the microbiome is evolving rapidly, with new insights weekly. At Tiny Health we are committed to bringing families the best of research and recommendations as our understanding evolves.
“Throughout my journey with my 2 kids, I realized that so much gut microbiome research is coming out of academia but it takes 10-15 years for this to reach the medical community and put it into practice. That is WAY TOO SLOW. I started Tiny Health to bring the latest science to consumers immediately, so parents can take action when it matters most.”
Cheryl Sew Hoy, Founder and CEO at Tiny Health