Breast-feeding may pass good bacteria from mom to baby

October 3, 2013

Breast milk delivers beneficial
bacteria from a mother’s
gut to her baby’s digestive
system, according to a new
study.
Swiss researchers found
the same strains of several
types of beneficial bacteria
in breast milk and in mothers’
and babies’ feces. Strains
found in breast milk may
help establish a critical nutritional
balance in the baby’s
gut and may be important to
prevent intestinal disorders,
according to the authors of
the study in the Aug. 22 issue
of the journal Environmental
Microbiology.
“We are excited to find
out that bacteria can actually
travel from the mother’s gut
to her breast milk,” Christophe
Lacroix, of the Institute
for Food, Nutrition
and Health in Zurich, said
in a journal news release. “A
healthy community of bacteria
in the gut of both mother
and baby is really important
for baby’s gut health and immune
system development,”
he explained.
“We’re not sure of the
route the bacteria take from
gut to breast milk but, we
have used culture, isolation,
sequencing and fingerprinting
methods to confirm that
they are definitely the same
strains,” Lacroix added.
Further research is needed
to determine how beneficial
bacteria are transferred
through breast milk from
mother to infant. Having
a greater understanding of
how babies acquire a population
of beneficial bacteria
in their digestive system may
lead to the development of
formula milk that is more
like breast milk, the researchers
said.