FMT: a great opportunity for soon-to-be parentspost by Anton Rodenhauser (anton-rodenhauser) · 2022-12-10T17:56:37.480Z · LW · GW · None comments
Introduction What does this have to do with parents? Why do infants have an especially high chance of being good FMT donors? How to improve an infant’s gut health? sources, science, further links to learn more: Help me! None No comments
- Fecal Microbiota Transplant (FMT) is a procedure that transfers the stool of healthy people to the guts of unhealthy people. The mechanism is to replace a dysbiotic gut microbiome with a healthier, disease-resistant, more youthful gut microbiome.
- FMTs can easily & safely be done at home, both for the stool donor and the recipient - no doctor needed. You just need a young healthy donor, screen them for various transmittable diseases, get the stool from them, and follow the DIY FMT process.
- Reasons for FMT include:
- FMT is a promising treatment for a very wide range of chronic and acute health conditions. See e.g. here and here. It is most commonly used for C.difficile infections.
- I like to think of FMT as a kind of biohacking tool to improve your gut health and thus your mood, energy, sleep, cognitive functioning, etc. A healthy gut microbiome has been shown to positively impact and regulate virtually every aspect of human health, development, and function.
- Anti-aging: The gut microbiome declines with age, contributing to inflamaging and all sorts of other problems. Keeping the microbiome young and healthy is therefore well worth it. And by far the best way to do so are FMTs from young donors. See my blog post (DIY) FMT for Anti-Aging & Biohacking [LW · GW].
- Restoring your microbiome after you were forced to take antibiotics.
What does this have to do with parents?
- The big bottleneck for FMT is finding young and healthy donors. Only extremely few people in the western world have a perfect microbiome & perfect digestion. Healthy stool is precious!!
- But young infants may have a higher chance of being good donors, especially if parents planned for this from the start and took active measures to improve the newborn’s gut health.
- Also, children can already be FMT donors at the age of just a few months. There is no known age-limit.
- Therefore, there is a great opportunity for soon-to-be-parents to fill the FMT donor bottleneck with their newborn children.
- For parents to take extra steps for their child to become a good FMT donor is a great win-win situation: The mother, child, and FMT receivers all can greatly benefit:
- Since the microbiome is very stable over time, a great microbiome during early childhood/infancy will leave a lasting positive effect for life, since most children with a good microbiome will also have a good microbiome for the rest of their life, and vice versa. Even if you don’t care about FMT at all, you might want to double down on your child’s gut health for this reason alone.
- You end up with a great FMT donor that the parents can use to improve their own and other’s microbiome. That’s the main point of this post.
- There is a company called Human Microbes that pays $500 per stool from a very high quality donor and sells them to people who need them. See my other post: Being a donor for Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT): Do good & earn easy money (up to 180k/y) [LW · GW]! You could cynically argue that the child could pay for itself this way.
- Even if you (the parent) have no current interest in high-quality stools for FMT for yourself or others, you might want to at least preserve this option for later, given that it’s great for your child anyway. Who knows. Maybe one day you are forced to take antibiotics which totally mess up your microbiome. Having a good source for FMTs available then could be very handy. Or, maybe you aren’t convinced of the whole FMT thing right now, but in the future, research on the benefits of FMT becomes much more conclusive.
Why do infants have an especially high chance of being good FMT donors?
- Antibiotics irreversibly harm your gut microbiome, among other things, making you a less ideal FMT donor. But infants (hopefully!) haven’t taken any antibiotics yet.
- Infants are obviously very young. The microbiome gets worse as we age, hence you generally want your FMT donor to be as young as possible. This is especially (but not only) true with FMTs for Anti-Aging. See my other post (DIY) FMT for Anti-Aging & Biohacking [LW · GW].
- Infants had less time to be infected with any parasites that would exclude them as donors. Asymptomatic parasite infections, e.g. by B.Hominis, are very common even in the western world, and not easy to get rid of. I personally had to turn down many promising donors for this reason.
- Many harmful things that usually set one up to not be a good donor can be avoided in an infant by the parent. E.g. they can decide against a c-section birth and choose to breastfeed for as long time (which is recommended for gut health).
- It is often very hard to meaningfully improve/fix your gut microbiome. Even if you assume you know everything science knows about this so far, and have endless will power to correctly apply it!). Also, most gut health interventions take at least months and up to 1-2 years to fully take effect! However, infants start with a blank state. Their intestines are literally sterile at birth! Much easier to build up a perfect microbiome from scratch rather than having to fix an existing one. This way, parents can "groom" their child to become perfect FMT donors.
- However, that being said, infants don’t fully start as a blank state. That’s because one of the most important determinants for an infant's gut health is the mother’s gut health. That’s why this post is mostly/especially relevant for relatively young healthy mothers with good microbiomes themselves. This is also why the title of this post says soon-to-be parents. Ideally, the becoming parents, especially the mother, starts at least 6 months prior to birth to improve their own gut health. And again, as a mother you’d want to do that for your child anyway.
How to improve an infant’s gut health?
- By far the most important determinant for a child’s gut health is the mother’s gut health. Focusing on the mother’s gut health is therefore key.
- The father’s gut health also has a significant impact and focusing on his gut health as well is also a great idea.
- Improving gut health is not easy and most ordinary interventions only take you so far. FMT is the most powerful (and in many cases the only truly working) gut health intervention. That’s why it might be a good idea for the mother to get FMT from a high quality donor herself prior to conception. Buy/get high quality stools once in order to get much more later! I’ve personally bought stools from Human Microbes and can recommend them.
- Consider not doing a c-section. A newborn needs to be covered in the mother’s microbes and that doesn’t happen during c-section. Also, try to avoid antibiotics as much as you can . As a parent you really don’t want to mess up your microbiome just as you are passing it on to your child!
- Breastfeeding for as long as possible is another important intervention.
- Of course, various lifestyle and other interventions are also highly recommended, both for the mother and the child. Eat whole foods, exercise; avoid environmental pollutants, including microplastics; sleep well, live a healthy lifestyle, avoid antibiotics when possible, etc.
sources, science, further links to learn more:
- Book recommendation: Real Food for Pregnancy: The Science and Wisdom of Optimal Prenatal Nutrition by Lily Nichols
- Setting the microbiome in early childhood: a crucial period : "Dr. Elinav describes how an over-sterilized environment and exposure to antibiotics in early life may harm the microbiome. He further discusses the eye-opening connection between early childhood germ exposure and a reduced likelihood of allergies and autoimmune diseases. Thus parents can steward the configuration of their child's microbiome, potentially reducing the risk of asthma, obesity, and other diseases in later life. In this clip, Dr. Eran Elinav discusses the importance of the early childhood period in shaping a healthy microbiome."
- Mothers and microbes, Part 1: The vaginal microbiome in health and disease
- "“Like mother, like daughter.” The phrase is often invoked to describe how children resemble their parents. While we know that human genes are passed from generation to generation, an expanding body of research now shows that many microbiome populations are also inherited. The microbes a child inherits are acquired from both parents and even siblings. However, microbial populations inherited from the mother have a particularly strong impact on a child’s development and health."
- "The impact of inherited microbes cannot be underestimated."
- Mothers and microbes, Part 2: The placental, breast milk, and breast tissue microbiomes
- "While the vaginal microbiome has received a great deal of attention from the research community, recent research also indicates that microbes persist in the womb, where they come in contact with a fetus before it is born."
- "Dysregulation of this placental microbiome by pathogens has also been associated with preterm birth and low infant birth weight."
- "After birth, an infant’s health is further shaped by microbes it continually acquires from its mother’s breast milk. While just a few years ago breast milk was believed to be sterile, it is now understood to deliver a robust microbiome that varies among women. An enteric-breast circulation allows microbes from a mother’s gut to reach her mammary glands and vice versa via the blood. The intensity of this circulatory pathway appears to increase during the end stages of pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Microbes originating in a mother’s intestines may subsequently be present in her breast milk. These microbes may in turn play a large role in forming her infant’s early gut communities."
- Here is a long list of papers, scientific reviews and further links on this topic: Maternity · MaximilianKohler/HumanMicrobiome Wiki . Some quotes:
- Reviews on establishment and impact of gut microbiome on development & later health: 
- Newborn Gut Bacteria Differs If Infants Breastfed Or Formula-Fed, Vaginal Or Cesarean Birthed .
- antibiotics given to the mother during pregnancy/breastfeeding significantly impact the baby's microbiome .
- Association of the Infant Gut Microbiome With Early Childhood Neurodevelopmental Outcomes (Mar 2019) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2728623 "These epidemiologic findings appear to support the hypothesis that early life gut microbiota are associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in childhood"
- .... the list goes on and on like this.
- For more info on FMT in general, check out my other FMT blog posts, especially the "Links to do your own research" section in Being a donor for Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT): Do good & earn easy money (up to 180k/y) [LW · GW]
I'm always looking for new FMT donors. In my case to treat my CFS. I also know lots of ppl looking for FMT donors. Please pm me if you think you are a good donor or if you are a (soon-to-be) parent up for this. I'm happy to pay or do whatever.
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