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Breastfeeding increases prevalence of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in infants

Breastfeeding until at least nine months of age increases prevalence in the gastrointestinal tract of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, species which are known to contribute to development of a healthy immune system, according to a paper describing the establishment of the intestinal microbiota during the first three years of life. The research was published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

In the study, the investigators sampled the gut microbiota in the feces of 300 children at 9, 18, and 36 months of age. The nutritional factor with the greatest impact on the composition of the gut flora was the time of cessation of breast feeding.

"This is to our knowledge the first study to characterize the gut microbiota in such a large cohort of children for this duration," says corresponding author Tine Rask Licht, of the Technical University of Denmark.

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