An interview with Becca Duar, Ph.D. Scientist

Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Thanks for joining us again as we speak to honorees about their amazing award-winning products—many of which can be life-changing. In today’s interview, we’re speaking with Dr. Becca Duar, a scientist who’s been instrumental in developing a probiotic for babies called Evivo. This health-giving product is a daily probiotic that contains a natural bacterial strain—one that’s shown to work with human milk to help establish a healthy gut microbiome. Evivo pairs with breast milk to create a protective environment in your baby’s GI tract, helping to support overall immune health. Keep reading to find out more about Dr. Duar and the award-winning product, Evivo!

MCA: Hi Becca, it is such a pleasure to have you join us today, and I want to extend our warmest congratulations on your Mom’s Choice Award. Having a healthy intestinal tract is so important for babies, that revolutionary products such as Evivo can be critical for parents with newborns. Why don’t we start off the interview by having you tell us a bit about yourself?

Dr. Becca Duar, one of the scientists behind Evivo!

Dr. Becca Duar, one of the scientists behind Evivo!

I am a microbiome scientist, published author, breastfeeding advocate, and mom to two girls who received Evivo when they were infants. I bring more than a decade of hands-on experience devising and evaluating microbiome-based products. At Infinant Health, I have been instrumental in generating data that helps explain Evivo’s method of action and the superiority of B. infantis EVC001, the product’s single powerful ingredient.

I received my MSc. degree in food science and technology with an emphasis in analytical chemistry from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a Ph.D. specializing in microbiome science and host-microbial symbiosis from the University of Alberta. I am the Associate Director of Product Development and the subject matter expert for Infinant Health’s current and future products. In addition, I manage the product life cycles and customer relevancy.

Wanting to use my knowledge to help people improve their health, I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding. I believe that it is the best way to start a baby’s life. I am also an avid researcher, continually looking for new ways to improve the health of the microbiome.

One of my roles as a member of the Infinant Health team is explaining complex scientific concepts in ways that are easy to understand. Since I am committed to helping people improve their health, I am a dedicated resource to anyone interested in learning more about the microbiome.

I enjoy spending my free time with my family, reading, and hiking. I also love to experiment with making fermented foods at home, like sauerkraut and kombucha.

MCA: Your commitment to improved health—that’s a goal we at Mom’s Choice Awards can definitely get behind. Tell us about the creation of Evivo and team behind it, as well as your own involvement with the work.

Infinant Health was formed based on research performed by a team of University of California, Davis scientists who discovered something peculiar about breastmilk—it contained components that were not digestible by babies. Why were these components there if a baby could not benefit from them?

Further research showed that the infant gut could only digest these nutrients (called Human Milk Oligosaccharides—HMOs) when in the presence of one particular bacterium called B. infantis. Infinant Health discovered a specific strain of B. infantis, B. infantis EVC001. It is clinically shown to be the only strain of B. infantis that colonizes in the infant gut giving infants its benefits even after they have moved off of breast milk.

My work has been instrumental in generating data to explain the genetic components of the bacteria that are responsible for the benefits babies receive, and B. infantis EVC001’s method of action—the proof that the medical and science communities demand before recommending or accepting new discoveries.

MCA: What needs was the team trying to fill in creating Evivo?

During our research we found that infants born without B. infantis are unable to benefit from the HMOs. These HMOs are now known to be key signaling molecules essential to infant development. Our mission was and will always remain helping infants maximize the natural nutrients and benefits of breast milk to unlock the full power of the gut microbiome and full potential of human nutrition. Early action, backed by sound research, holds the key to making this possible.

MCA: I’m sure readers would love to hear about the unique features of your product. Would you share those?

Evivo is unique compared to other probiotics:

  • It was created via research into breastmilk’s nutritional benefits, not as a by-product of other research (many probiotics are created because a team finds an “interesting bacteria” which is easy to reproduce and is shelf-stable so they back into finding a commercial purpose for it).
  • It contains one strain of bacteria, B. infantis EVC001 – the one strain every baby needs.
  • We can document its mechanism of action (few other probiotic makers understand how their product functions).
  • infantis EVC001 captures, consumes and coverts HMOs into metabolites, key signaling molecules that help guide healthy immune system function.
  • Evivo has been shown safe in clinical trials and real-world use.
  • Evivo meets the highest standards for purity and safety, receiving “Clean Label Project” and “First 1,000 Day Promise” certifications, as well as meeting all FDA requirements.

MCA: I understand that you also gave Evivo to your own healthy baby daughters. So older, healthy babies can benefit from the product, in addition to underweight babies and premies?

During our research, we saw that 90% of all babies born in the U.S. are missing B. infantis, even those born at term. This means that almost all babies can receive the benefits of Evivo. This discovery prompted Infinant Health to recommend Evivo for all babies.

This built on Evivo’s initial use with the most vulnerable babies, those born pre-term, by C-section or who had spent time in the NICU. Evivo especially benefits those with a severely unbalanced or underdeveloped gut microbiome resulting from early birth, those not exposed to their mom’s bacteria (either because they were not born vaginally or missed out on skin-to-skin contact while in an incubator), or received antibiotics that kill both good and bad bacteria in the gut.

To ensure we meet the needs of all babies, we have developed two distinct product formulations, a liquid specifically for NICU use, and a once-daily powder designed for caregivers at home. Parents can determine how they want to mix feed the powder—mixed with a small amount of breast milk and given with a syringe, or added to a bottle.

MCA: Tell us about the importance of Evivo for children in this age range.

The Mom's Choice Award-winning product, Evivo!

The Mom’s Choice Award-winning product, Evivo!

At birth and continuing through the first 100 days of life, infants experience the most critical window of opportunity for immune and brain development. The immune system is being “educated” by the bacteria in the gut, where 80% of the immune system lives. And this is when your long-term health potential is being set. Without B. infantis EVC001, infants are unable to unlock the full potential of human nutrition.

MCA: What, then, is the optimal time to start using this probiotic?

Evivo provides its benefits as early as the first day of life—this is the optimal time to start using it. It should be continued for as long as babies are receiving breast milk, helping to set them on a path for life-long health.

MCA: How widely accepted is the science behind the product?

While the medical community generally supports probiotics as a whole for infants, research conclusively confirms breast milk promotes the growth of B. infantis EVC001 once introduced through Evivo. By utilizing the HMOs in breastmilk, B. infantis EVC001 colonizes (replicates and persists) in the infant gut. This science has been peer reviewed, with conclusions published in many scientific journals. And importantly, the mechanism of action is well understood and verifiable.

MCA: Do you find that pediatricians recommend Evivo to their patients?

We regularly receive positive feedback from the medical community. Many pediatricians and neonatologists have seen the results firsthand, and either recommend Evivo to their patients or administer it to infants in their care.

MCA: That’s certainly an excellent endorsement. What are parents saying?

Parents report reduced colic symptoms (scientists believe that colic may be caused by an overabundance of harmful bacteria). Parents also report reduced diarrhea after antibiotic use when Evivo is given (it re-balances the gut after antibiotics have killed beneficial gut bacteria). Other real-world data from parents: 52% say their baby slept longer, 63% reported less gas and fussiness, and 72% saw significant or complete improvement in diaper rash–all after feeding Evivo.

MCA: Your website says: Our mission is to change the trajectory of human health, one baby at a time. Do you foresee a time when Infinant Health might also look at probiotic use in older children and adults–and develop products for those age groups?

Right now we’re focused on infancy because this is when we can make the most impact in someone’s health, essentially when the body defines your health trajectory. But we are certainly studying the effects of Evivo on older children, and we continue our research into the human gut microbiome, looking for new breakthroughs that can protect all people from potentially harmful bacteria and support healthy immune function.

MCA: Thanks so much for talking with us, Becca, and for discussing the fascinating topic of improved infant health through Evivo. We will keep our eyes out for future development from you and Infinant Health!

You can learn more about Becca Duar, Ph.D. and her award-winning product, Evivo, by visiting her MCA Shop pages.

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One Comment on “An interview with Becca Duar, Ph.D. Scientist”

  1. Breastfeeding was one of the best decisions I have made with my kids. I feel it gave me a bond with them like no other. I know it’s not for every mother and I totally respect them. I am so greatful I was able to do that for my babies.

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