Probiotic Lactobacilli in Breast Milk and Infant Stool in Relation to Oral Intake During the First Year of Life

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Abstract

Objectives:

This is to identify factors affecting the prevalence of Lactobacillus reuteri in maternal faeces and breast milk and infant faeces after oral supplementation with L reuteri and to assess the influence on microbial ecology, particularly Clostridium difficile and Bifidobacterium colonization.

Materials and Methods:

In this double-blind trial, 232 mothers with a family history of atopic disease were randomized to a daily intake of either L reuteri American-type culture collection (ATCC) 55730 (1 × 108 colony-forming units [CFU]) or placebo for the last 4 weeks of pregnancy. Their babies then continued with the same study product daily from birth until 12 months of age. Bacterial counts and prevalence were assessed in maternal breast milk and faeces and infant faeces, using conventional cultivation methods.

Results:

The prevalence of L reuteri was higher during the first year of life in the stool samples from infants in the active as compared with the placebo-treated group. The highest prevalence was recorded at 5 to 6 days of age (82% in the treated vs 20% in the placebo group, P < 0.001). Lactobacillus reuteri was isolated from 12% and 2%, respectively, in the colostrum samples (P < 0.05). Breast-feeding seemed to reduce faecal L reuteri counts, although antibiotics did not influence the levels of L reuteri. The administration of L reuteri did not affect bifidobacteria or C difficile colonization.

Conclusion:

Lactobacillus reuteri may be detected in breast milk after oral supplementation to the mother and in almost all infants after oral supplementation during the first year of life, as well as occasionally in many untreated infants.

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