Benefits of Human Breastmilk in the Gut Microbiomes of Infants

Brianna Hamilton


It is known that breastfeeding an infant is better than feeding an infant formula, but why? Specifically, what are the benefits of breastfeeding on the microbiota in infants’ intestinal tract? Scientists have began exploring this question to determine how breastmilk aids in the development of a persons’ gut microbiota starting from infancy. Recent research has found that infants receive numerous types of bacteria from their mothers in their first year of life. This is important because a vast amount of the bacteria transmitted from mother to infant are extremely beneficial for the infant as he/she gets older. Factors such as protection against pathogens and immune system support are a few of the multiple major benefits that good bacteria have on gastrointestinal microbiomes.

            During some months, breast milk is the best food for the rapidly-growing infant since breast feeding protects the newborn against some disease such as infections disease, asthma and allergy (Mehanna et al. 2013). Though much of the bacteria can be very beneficial for infants, others can be detrimental. Recently, scientists have been discovering that different modes of transmission provide the infant with different types of bacteria. Bottle-feeding an infant formula delivers different bacteria than breastfeeding an infant milk from their mothers’ breasts. A problem in this field is determining whether bottle-feeding an infant breastmilk is more beneficial like direct breastfeeding, or more detrimental like bottle-feeding an infant formula.

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