Culturally, breastfeeding has variable patronage. Some people are still backwards enough to wish to restrict breastfeeding in public as a moral issue. This is purely nonsensical. Then there are those who have actually debated reducing breastfeeding time. Science, stands in opposition to all such fallacies.
And today, Physican’s Briefing highlighted this amazing study coming out of Los Angeles and St. Petersberg Florida, and published in JAMA. I browsed through the paper, available as a free download (link below), always a great thing! This paper will be featured on my medical journal site soon. It is simply great. The analysis methods, the various permutations and combinations examined, etc. make it all the more impressive, and with just basic science training, you are able to follow the fundamental methods and findings quite easily. But, more on that later.
This remarkable study, spanned 5 years, two centers, and 107 healthy mother-infant pairs, some mothers only and infants only, carefully screened, followed up, and analyzed! The attention to detail at every level makes this a really great paper. For the first time, it links breast milk and the areolar skin (skin in the mother’s nipple area, please see excellent Wikipedia reference below) to infant gut bacterial colonies.
Rather than try to interpret and potentially mangle findings, I am going to just quote the clear language from the paper directly:
Question Do maternal breast milk and areolar skin bacterial communities transfer to the infant gut?
Findings In this 12-month longitudinal study of 107 healthy mother-infant pairs, breastfed infants received 27.7% of their gut bacteria from breast milk and 10.4% from areolar skin during the first month of life. Bacterial diversity and composition changes were associated with the proportion of daily breast milk intake in a dose-dependent manner even after introduction of solid foods.
Meaning Microbes in mother’s breast milk seed the infant gut, including those associated with beneficial effects, underscoring the importance of breastfeeding in maturation of the infant gut microbiome.
If there was ever an argument against breastfeeding, it should evaporate away with this study. More importantly, it ought to create a sense of urgency in helping women understand the need and importance of breastfeeding, as well as awareness on the appropriate duration of breastfeeding infants.
- The Physician’s Briefing Article: http://www.physiciansbriefing.com/Article.asp?AID=722478
- The JAMA Article: http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2625334
- Wikipedia on Areola: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areola
- Image courtesy, Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/crescent-moon-and-cloud-wind-chimes-235243/