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Breast-Fed Babies Have Healthier Guts and Stronger Immunity, Study

Breastfeeding may help a baby’s gut develop a wider range of healthy bacteria, which is critical for intestinal tract and in immune system development, according to a new study.

The findings, published in the journal Genome Biology, show that the bacteria in babies’ guts were linked to changes in expression of genes involved in their immune systems.

"The early neonatal period is a critical phase for both intestinal digestive development as well as colonization" by the gut microbes, the study authors wrote.

Researchers stressed that there was an association, not a cause-and-effect link, between breastfeeding and a healthier gut, and additional research is still needed to confirm the latest findings.

Researchers compared genetic material in stool samples from 12 three-month old infants, six of them were breast-fed and the other six were formula-fed, and used the genetic material to determine the types of bacteria in the infants’ guts.

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