Scientists have discovered a complex and dynamic bacterial ecosystem in human breast milk using the International Space Station’s pioneering genetic technology.
Credit: Emmanuel Gonzalez et al.
The mix of beneficial bacteria that is transmitted from mother to infant through breast milk changes dramatically over time and can act as a daily booster for infant immunity and metabolism. The research was conducted by scientists from Montreal and Guatemala and published in Frontiers in MicrobiologyIt has important implications for the growth and health of infants.
Researchers have discovered a group of previously unrecognized microbiomes in breast milk. To date, relatively little is known about the role the microbiome plays in breast milk. These bacteria are thought to protect the infant’s digestive system and improve aspects of long-term health, such as preventing allergies.
“Some of the bacterial species that we observed in our breast milk sample have a common function of destroying foreign matter or microorganisms and can play a role in protecting against toxins and pollutants,” says co-author Emmanuel Gonzalez, a bioinformatics specialist at McGill University. This discovery sheds light on how mothers can help lay the foundation for infant immunity.
Differences between early and late feeding
To learn more about the human milk microbiome, scientists analyzed breast milk samples using high-resolution imaging technology, originally pioneered by McGill University and the University of Montreal to detect bacteria on the International Space Station.
They analyzed breast milk samples from Mayan mothers who live in eight remote rural communities in the western highlands of Guatemala. This gave them a unique window to monitor the human milk microbiome over time, particularly between early and late breastfeeding (6-46 days versus 109-184 days).
Unlike most North American mothers, nearly all Maya mothers breastfeed for the six-month period recommended by the World Health Organization. In North America, only 26% of mothers do this. “This longer feeding time has allowed us to monitor important changes in the bacteria introduced to infants over time, which could affect health in the long term,” Gonzalez says.
The genomic technology the scientists used has revealed a range of microbiome species common to Mayan mothers, providing a glimpse into a diverse community of bacteria that are transmitted to infants.
“Studying microbiomes in diverse societies is important for understanding the variability in humans,” says co-author Christine Koski, associate professor at McGill College of Human Nutrition. “Most studies of the human milk microbiome were conducted with mothers from high-income countries, leading to the formation of An incomplete picture of important bacteria that were transferred to infants during early development.
According to the scientists, working alongside unrepresented societies will be essential to obtain an accurate picture of the breastmilk microbiome and the factors that shape it. They hope these discoveries will help encourage more comprehensive and robust research.
About this study
“Characteristic changes occur in the human breast milk microbiome between early and confirmed breastfeeding in Guatemalan breastfeeding mothers” by Gonzales Emanuel, Breriton Nicholas JP, Lee Chen, Lopez Lieva Lillian, Solomons Noel W, Agilon Louis B. Scott Marilyn E. And Kristen JV Kosuke Frontiers in Microbiology.
DOI: https: /
About McGill University
Established in 1821, McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, is the highest-ranking Doctor of Medicine university in Canada. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the best universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned higher education institution with research activities covering two campuses, 11 colleges, 13 vocational schools, 300 study programs and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 postgraduate students. McGill attracts students from more than 150 countries around the world, and its 12,800 international students make up 31% of the student body. More than half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including about 19% of our students who say French is their native language.