Good bacteria gets passed to babies from breast milk

Photo Credit: Alexandra Studio Photo Credit: Alexandra Studio

A study published recently in the journal Environmental Microbiology found that beneficial strains of bacterial may be passed from mothers to their babies through breastfeeding. Researchers in Switzerland, looking at bacteria strains in mothers and their offspring, found similarities between the maternal and neonatal gut ecosystem. This vertical transfer of beneficial bacteria is advantageous to babies, because it allows for the colonization of neonatal gut microbes, and a strong gut bacterial ecosystem is critical for the maturation of the immune system. “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,” said Christophe Lacroix, one of the study researchers from the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health in Zurich. Because strains of bacteria are passed from mothers to their babies through breastfeeding, it may be especially important for mothers to avoid consuming milk and meat from animals that are routinely given antibiotics, steroids, and other drugs, as these have the potential to disrupt the delicate digestive ecosystem of microbes.