a baby being breast fed, breastfeeding

Why should new mothers consider breastfeeding? Pediatricians have been recommending that babies be breastfed exclusively for the first six months if possible. One benefit of breastfeeding is that it helps establish a healthy community of microbes in the baby’s intestinal tract.

Breastfeeding Helps Babies Get the Right Bacteria in Place:

The scientists examined microbial samples from more than 100 pairs of mother and infants. They found that important microbes in the babies’ stool matched bacteria in their mothers’ milk and on their mothers’ skin.

The milk microbes that colonized the infants’ digestive tracts were associated with more diverse microbial communities. This is how breastfeeding gives them a good start, presumably making for better digestive health both in infancy and at later ages.

Pannaraj et al, JAMA Pediatrics, online April 19, 2017 

You can learn more about the importance of diversity in the gut microbiome, not for babies but for adults, from our interview with Dr. Robynne Chutkan, author of The Microbiome Solution

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  1. Ellie

    Interesting – for years, low income and minority women have not breast-fed their babies while educated women have embraced breast feeding. At the same time, obesity has grown in the lower income, minority population. Is anyone doing a study on beneficial bacterial derived from breast feeding and non-breast fed lower income children?

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