Mom and baby share “good bacteria” through breast milk

July 10, 2020

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia and the University of Manitoba has found that bacteria are shared and possibly transferred from a mother’s milk to her infant’s gut, and that breastfeeding directly at the breast best supports this process.

The research, published today in Cell Host & Microbe, found that certain bacteria, including Streptococcus and Veillonella, co-occur in mothers’ milk and their infants’ stool, and this co-occurrence is higher when infants nurse directly at the breast.

PWIAS Distinguished Professor Brett Finlay (Michael Smith Labs, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Microbiology and Immunology) is the study’s senior co-author. He explained that these results advance the hypothesis that breast milk may act as an incubator that enriches, protects and transports certain bacteria to a baby’s intestinal tract and this may give us clues about which bacteria could make good probiotics since they appear to withstand the trip to the baby’s gut,

The collaborative study was co-led by Turvey, Finlay and Meghan Azad, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Origins of Chronic Disease at the University of Manitoba, and co-director of the Manitoba Interdisciplinary Lactation Centre at the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. Trainees Rozlyn Boutin and Hind Sbihi at UBC, and Kelsey Fehr and Dr. Shirin Moossavi at the University of Manitoba were the study’s co-first authors.