Breast milk promotes gut bugs that give baby immunity

August 28th, 2012 - 4:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) A unique property in breast milk promotes gut bugs that give infants greater immunity from infections than any infant formula, according to a US study.

“This study provides insight to the mechanisms underlying the benefits of breast feeding over formula feeding for newborns,” said William Parker, associate professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Centre and senior study author.

“Only breast milk appears to promote a healthy colonisation of beneficial biofilms, (complex layer adhering to gut surfaces) and these insights suggest there may be potential approaches for developing substitutes that more closely mimic those benefits in cases where breast milk cannot be provided,” added Parker, the journal Current Nutrition & Food Science reports.

As scientists have learned more about the role intestinal flora plays in health, they have gained appreciation for how an infant’s early diet can affect this beneficial microbial universe, according to a Duke statement.

Earlier studies have shown that breast milk lowers the incidence of diarrhoea, flu and respiratory infections during infancy, while protecting against the later development of allergies, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other illnesses.

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