THE LABS OF Evolve BioSystems are full of baby poop. Tucked into a shopping mall in Davis, California, alongside a Jazzercise and a marijuana dispensary, this biotech company has gathered infants’ feces from all over the country. “Millions of people every day are throwing away poopy diapers, and they don’t realize how much information is actually contained in each poop,” says Robin Flannery, Evolve’s director of clinical development and operations. “It tells us a lot about what’s going on inside the baby.”
Specifically, Evolve is interested in one potentially very powerful type of bacteria found in babies’ intestines: B. infantis. Its researchers, including several scientists at the University of California, Davis, think the bacterium flourished in babies’ bellies for thousands of years. But today, the company’s research shows, in about 9 out of 10 American babies, B. infantis has disappeared. Without it, they say, kids are missing out on a host of health benefits.
Take the case of Jack Graw, a newborn who underwent two rounds of high-dose antibiotics during treatment for a collapsed lung in 2017. The drugs prevented infection but also likely wiped out beneficial bacteria in his gut. Once he went home, Jack screamed during feeding and developed a “horrible rash” on his butt, his mom, Katelyn Graw, told me. Within a week of giving Evolve’s B. infantis probiotic a try, his symptoms practically vanished.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Food For Thought: Stirring The Pot
The forgotten Chinese chef who transformed the way America cooks
Double Standard Bearers - Supremacy and Sedition
There’s a reason the Capitol rioters have dodged the charge: race.
The Purity Trap
These women went to Bible college to deepen their faith. Then they were assaulted— and blamed for it.
The Big Quit
How workers got fed up and bosses got scared
Drinking Problem: Well Wishes
How thirsty cash crops could uproot vulnerable Californians
Better Call Ken
The Texas Attorney General provided a radical legal pretext to overturn the election. Now he’s using the same tactics to gut Roe v. Wade.
MIXED MEDIA VANISHING POINT
More than two centuries ago, a group of West Africans chose death over enslavement in the waters of coastal Georgia. Why do so few traces of their story remain there today?
HAD BADGE, WILL TRAVEL
An ex-sheriff slings bogus constitutional lessons at cops—with your state’s seal of approval.
THE LONG SHOT
What if we could make a vaccine for pandemic viruses—before they exist?
THE LEGAL WAR AGAINST MOTHER JONES
Journalists shouldn’t hide behind a veil of false objectivity.