In the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, Step 6 states, "Do not provide breastfed newborns any food or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated." Why? Why would such a recommendation be made? This month, we'll be taking a closer look at some of the answers to this "Why".
Reason #1: Establishment of a healthy infant gut microbiota. What follows is the abstract from a 2015 study which is free to download (link below). My suggestion is to download and read the in-depth information... it is fascinating to even begin to comprehend the complexity of the human body and the way breast milk works to affect the health of the newborn right through adulthood.
"Neonatal gut microbiota establishment represents a crucial stage for gut maturation, metabolic and immunologic programming, and consequently short- and long-term health status. Human milk beneficially influences this process due to its dynamic profile of age-adapted nutrients and bioactive components and by providing commensal maternal bacteria to the neonatal gut. These include Lactobacillus spp., as well as obligate anaerobes such as Bifidobacterium spp., which may originate from the maternal gut via an enteromammary pathway as a novel form of mother-neonate communication. Additionally, human milk harbors a broad range of oligosaccharides that promote the growth and activity of specific bacterial populations, in particular, Bifidobacterium and Bacteroides spp. This review focuses on the diversity and origin of human milk bacteria, as well as on milk oligosaccharides that influence neonatal gut microbiota establishment. This knowledge can be used to develop infant formulae that more closely mimic nature's model and sustain a healthy gut microbiota."
I hope this starts a long research journey for you on the microbiomes of the human body; by the way, the breast has its own microbiome! As well, may you more fully understand why supplementation of the newborn, when not medically necessary, causes problems. Enjoy!
Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA CHC
Professional Development Educator
Jost, T., Lacroix, C., Braegger, C., and Chassard, C. 2015. Impact of human milk bacteria and oligosaccharides on neonatal gut microbiota establishment and gut health. Nutrition Reviews. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1030.13&rep=rep1&type=pdf
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Last Updated: September 2018