• The Composition of Human Milk and Infant Faecal Microbiota Over the First Three Months of Life: A Pilot Study

      Murphy, Kiera; Curley, David; O’Callaghan, Tom F.; O’Shea, Carol A; Dempsey, Eugene; O'Toole, Paul W.; Ross, R Paul; Ryan, C. Anthony; STANTON, CATHERINE; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Nature, 2017-01-17)
      Human milk contains a diverse array of bioactives and is also a source of bacteria for the developing infant gut. The aim of this study was to characterize the bacterial communities in human milk and infant faeces over the first 3 months of life, in 10 mother-infant pairs. The presence of viable Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus in human milk was also evaluated. MiSeq sequencing revealed a large diversity of the human milk microbiota, identifying over 207 bacterial genera in milk samples. The phyla Proteobacteria and Firmicutes and the genera Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus were the predominant bacterial groups. A core of 12 genera represented 81% of the microbiota relative abundance in milk samples at week 1, 3 and 6, decreasing to 73% at week 12. Genera shared between infant faeces and human milk samples accounted for 70–88% of the total relative abundance in infant faecal samples, supporting the hypothesis of vertical transfer of bacteria from milk to the infant gut. In addition, identical strains of Bifidobacterium breve and Lactobacillus plantarum were isolated from the milk and faeces of one mother-infant pair. Vertical transfer of bacteria via breastfeeding may contribute to the initial establishment of the microbiota in the developing infant intestine.