Knoxville and Maryville, TN
Many studies support the health benefits of breastfeeding your infant, but recent research in America has linked mother’s milk and skin to the production of healthy gut bacteria in infants. Even more important, the longer a baby breastfeeds, the more healthy gut bacteria they will develop, which helps promote long-term health.
Hopefully, these findings will help increase awareness about the importance of breastfeeding in support of promoting healthy gut bacteria in infants.
A study conducted by the University of California discovered that babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first month of life received nearly one-third of gut bacteria from their mother’s milk and an additional 10 percent from their mother’s skin (from direct contact with mother’s breast). The study goes on further to indicate that the longer a baby breastfeeds, the more gut bacteria it receives from the mother. In fact, the JAMA Pediatrics Journal writes that bacteria found in the breast milk of mothers are found to “seed” the gut of infants who are breastfed.
According to an article published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, infants are born with what is referred to as a sterile gut, meaning the level of their gut microbes is very low, at best. The composition, as well as the rate of development, of an infant’s gut microbe, is dependent on the method of delivery, how the baby is fed (breast or bottle), and if probiotics, prebiotics, or antibiotics are used.
Why are gut microbes important?
The gut microbiota is complex, and has been challenging to study until recently. The human gut is home to more than 100 trillion microbial cells that play a role in our physiology, metabolism, immune system function, and nutrition. Furthermore, a disruption in gut microbiota has been linked to many gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colorectal cancer, and even obesity and Type-2 diabetes.
Recommendations on Breastfeeding
Pediatric health experts recommend that babies be exclusively breastfed until the introduction of solid foods, which is usually around six months of age. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that mothers continue to do so until their baby is one year of age or until there is a mutual desire to quit.
When it comes to breastfeeding, the benefits increase the longer you breastfeed, but keep in mind that even if you are only able to nurse your baby for a short period, there are many health benefits during this time. For babies who are breastfed the first 30 days of after birth, and that received mostly breast milk, derived about 28 percent of their gut bacteria from their mother’s breast milk, and another 10 percent from skin-to-skin contact with their mother’s breast.
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