How does breastfeeding affect a child’s microbiome?

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Breastfeeding & the Microbiome

A mother’s milk has been shown to have undeniable benefits for the babies it feeds, producing a unique combination of ingredients personalized for a child that evolves over time. So it should come as no surprise that breastfeeding also nourishes and helps develop a baby’s microbiome.

Not only does breast milk contain the nutrients babies need, but it also contains complex molecules like oligosaccharides that feed our microbes. And to maximize this benefit, when a mother breastfeeds, the skin to skin contact provides her baby with additional microbes to further strengthen her child’s microbiome.

A baby’s healthy microbes help them digest food and generate vitamins that they are not able to generate on their own. Breastmilk also provides a natural antibiotic that keeps nasty microbes in check. And early research shows that breastfeeding can significantly reduce the risk of diseases like asthma later in life.


Photo credit: Let Them Eat Dirt documentary

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