When we speak of mother’s milk, it is usually in the context of breastfeeding – which is literally that: by nursing, a mother feeds its baby’s first hunger. Yet breast milk is able to achieve so much more: It also provides infant guts with healthy bacteria. Scientists at the University of Zurich have shown that bacteria make their way from the mother’s gut via breast milk to the baby’s gut. “We know how important a healthy community of bacteria in the gut of both mother and baby is for baby’s gut health and immune system development”, emphasised Prof. Christophe Lacroix, who headed the research effort (see also http://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/en/doctors-swab-c-section-babies-with-bacteria/). He detected the same bacterial strains in the stool and breast milk of nursing mothers and in the stool of their newborn children. These bacteria are responsible for a healthy gut flora or gut microbiota und strengthen the immune system’s development.
During his long-time research, Lacroix gained groundbreaking insights into lactic acid bacteria and probiotic bacteria. For him, it has become an article of faith that adding healthy bacteria to food improved its quality and safety and offered health advantages to consumers. He is simply taking a leaf from Nature’s book, as in the case of breast milk. The baby’s gut, germfree at the time of birth, is colonized by important bacteria received through breast milk.
Swiss researcher Thierry Hennet holds similar views. In an article for the journal “Trends in Biochemical Sciences”, he wrote that nursing reduced infant mortality and provided protection from infectious diseases. And in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Spanish researchers wrote that breast milk may contain more than 700 different strains of bacteria. If these breast milk bacteria “were important for the development of the immune system, its addition to infant formula could decrease the risk of allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases”, the article concludes.