Breast Milk Protects Babies From Bacteria Resistant To Antibiotics: Study

Breast Milk Protects Babies From Bacteria Resistant To Antibiotics Study

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A desire that is common to all mothers is to ensure her little one’s well-being. And, what is better than knowing that your milk can do wonders for your baby’s good health. At least, that is what a research from the University of Helsinki is telling us (1). As per the study, breast milk can help protect children from the antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The antibiotic-resistant bacteria are considered to be one of the biggest threats to the health of a human being. Such bacteria are present everywhere. In fact, human gut is also one of the places where the bacteria can be found, irrespective of whether or not the individual has taken antibiotics. Moreover, they can be transmitted between two people through direct contact or even food. The way it transmits is pretty much similar to the other bacterial and viral transfers.

The recent study conducted by the scientists at the University of Helsinki looked at both the quality and the quantity of antibiotic-resistant bacteria present in the breast milk. And, also investigated its presence in the gut of the mom-kid duos.

Breast Milk Protects Babies From Bacteria Resistant To Antibiotics Study

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The research has resulted in three findings, which were published in the ‘Nature Communications’ journal. First and foremost, less amount of resistant bacteria were found in the gut of babies who breastfed for a minimum of six months in comparison to those who breastfed for a smaller duration. To put it more simply, breast milk somehow helps protect infants from such bacteria.

Secondly, if moms underwent an antibiotic treatment at the time of delivery, an increased amount of the resistant bacteria were present in the infant’s gut. This difference was, in fact, noticeable even after six months of the treatment.

Meanwhile, the third finding showed that breast milk also contains some amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And, these can be passed on to the infant during breastfeeding. But, the overall reduction in such bacteria due to breastfeeding makes the overall process beneficial.

Breast Milk Protects Babies From Bacteria Resistant To Antibiotics Study

Image: Shutterstock

Katariina Parnanen, who is a microbiologist and one of the authors of the study, worked on this research along with her colleagues. The study involved collecting breast milk, as well as the fecal matter, of around 16 mom-infant pairs. And, the research was more or less focused on how many antibiotic-resistant genes were present in the breastmilk. These genes enable bacteria to become resistant to some antibiotics. Moreover, these genes can smoothly transfer from one bacteria to another. And, there can be many such genes present in one bacteria, making it resistant to many antibiotics.

It was for the first time that a study brought out how breast milk contains a high number of such genes. And, when these genes are transferred to the bacteria, it makes them resistant too. But, the study more strongly supported the notion of how breastfeeding is quite beneficial for the infants.

While breast milk does have antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the sugar present in the milk helps sustain the useful gut bacteria in infants. Thus, the breast milk can help these beneficial bacteria get ahead of the resistant pathogen. Perhaps, that is why the kids who breastfeed for a minimum of six months have lesser amounts of such bacteria.

The benefits of breastfeeding could also be seen in infants who were fed formula milk along with the breastmilk. The partial breastfeeding showed a reduced amount of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria too. These findings have further established how breastfeeding for at least six months is a boon for the babies.

We are sure that you already know how breastfeeding is healthy and incredible for the infant. But, the discovery of its positive impact on antibiotic-resistant bacteria just makes breastfeeding all the more satisfactory and joyous. After all, it ensures the well-being of your little one. Cheers!

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