In recent decades medical experts have continued to emphasise the importance of breastfeeding babies, and correctly too. According to recent studies, experts say it’s not until the age of two and a half before a child can develop vigorous gut bacteria with very little change occurring afterwards.
This therefore goes to establish the importance of breastfeeding, leading to transfer of good gut bacteria to infants in their very early lives. The team of researchers working in the UK Newcastle University has through their study established that the bacterium, Bifidobacterium is plentiful in breast milk, and soon began to reduce speedily as soon as breastfeeding was brought to an end.
Also, this new study published in the journal Nature, till date happens to be among the largest clinical microbiome studies ever carried out.
Due to its huge potentials in achieving healing, Bifidobacterium is the very vital bacteria; it is highly valuable that it is a major bacteria used in probiotics. Dr. Christopher Stewart, from Newcastle University’s Institute of Cellular Medicine who was a co-lead author of the research said, “Breastfeeding has long been understood to be good for infants and epidemiological evidence shows being breastfed early in life is associated with lower risk of many later life diseases, such as allergy and obesity.
“Targeting the nutrients in breast milk that encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the infant gut, or providing probiotic containing Bifidobacterium represent important avenues for future research aimed at restoring the beneficial properties of being breastfed when breast milk is not available.”
The research which made use of a group of patients in the pioneering project called TEDDY (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young) discovered that as soon as babies were taken off the breast the bacterial community increased quickly while most of the Bifidobacterium that got lost were replenished by bacteria contained by the Firmicutes phyla. Firmicutes are characteristic of an adult microbiome and the manifestation of these bacteria as soon as breastfeeding ceased happened faster than scientists expected.
“Because a diet without breast milk delivers different nutrients to the gut, this rapid turnover in the bacterial community is likely to be in response to the new food sources promoting the growth of a different community.
“Remarkably, from this point on, the microbiome progressed quickly towards being stable, where the bacteria in the gut will potentially remain for the rest of that individual’s life,” Dr. Stewart stated.
The researchers applied sequencing-based methods in analysing 12,500 stool specimens taken from 903 children in the TEDDY study; this was gathered from children who were between 3 to 46 months of age on a monthly basis. In the course of time Microbiome composition and diversity have transformed in the following three different phases: the developmental phase (3-14 months), transitional phase (15-30 months) and stable phase (31 months onwards).
Giving birth normally through the vagina was linked with a momentary increase in Bacteroides bacteria. Resulting variations found between microbiome profiles also were associated with factors like – siblings, exposure to pets, and geographical location.
Dr. Joseph Petrosino, director of the Alkek Centre for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, USA, led the group of the microbiome research.
He had this to say: “We know that the first few years of life are important for microbiome establishment. You are born with very few microbes, and microbial communities assemble on and in your body through those first years of your life.
“In this study, we took a closer look at the establishment of the microbiome over the first few years of life, and the early life exposures associated with that sequence of events, in this amazing cohort.”
Meanwhile the same journal also published a similar paper wherein experts from the Broad Institute analysed almost 11,000 stool specimens taken from 783 babies in the TEDDY research to typify the early gut microbiome in children giving rise to type 1diabetes.
These scientists conclude that the microbiomes of babies without type 1 diabetes contain more genes having to do with fermentation as well as short-chain fatty-acid synthesis which when combined with earlier confirmation, are connected with a protective outcome.