It’s not without reason that public health regulators push breast-milk as the best for infants! It gives your baby more than just good nutrition!
Previous research has established that breast milk shield babies against stomach bugs, chest infections, asthma, allergies, obesity and bestows health benefits in later life. Now a new study claims it also improves the digestive health of infants.
According to experts, the so-called “good bacteria” flows from the mother’s gut to her newborn through breast milk, which is vital for a good digestive system and the basis of early immunity. The valuable microbes can be transferred to a suckling infant in breast milk, the study finds.
Study leader Professor Christophe Lacroix, from the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health in Zurich stated, “This study shows that gut-associated anaerobes may be vertically transferred from mother to neonate (infant) via breastfeeding.
“Our data supports the recently suggested hypothesis of a novel way of mother-neonate communication, in which maternal gut bacteria reach breast milk via an entero-mammary pathway to influence neonatal gut colonisation and maturation of the immune system.”
Details of the study
In order to get some insight into whether breast milk is good for babies gut, experts conducted a study. They carried out DNA tests on the breast milk of seven healthy mothers and their exclusively breast-fed one month old babies. The researchers examined faecal samples and used a variety of laboratory techniques to identify bacteria in the guts of both infants and their mothers.
The tests found identical strains of Bifidobacterium breve and many types of Clostridium bacteria the maternal and neonatal feces and the breast milk the babies were being fed with.
Experts believe the strains may help establish a nutritional balance in the baby’s gut and could be vital in warding off intestinal disorders.
Lacroix said, “We are excited to find out that bacteria can actually travel from the mother’s gut to her breast milk. 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.
“We’re not sure of the route the bacteria takes from gut to breast milk but, we have used culture, isolation, sequencing and fingerprinting methods to confirm that they are definitely the same strains.”
The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal ‘Environmental Microbiology’.