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Clin Exp Allergy. 2007 Dec;37(12):1764-72. Epub 2007 Oct 16.

Maternal breast-milk and intestinal bifidobacteria guide the compositional development of the Bifidobacterium microbiota in infants at risk of allergic disease.

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Department of Pediatrics, Turku University Central Hospital, Turku, Finland.



The sources and the impact of maternal bacteria on the initial inoculum of the intestinal microflora of newborn infants remain elusive.


To assess the association between maternal breast-milk and fecal bifidobacteria and infants' fecal bifidobacteria.


Sixty-one mother-infant pairs were included, special emphasis being placed on the maternal allergic status. Bifidobacteria were analysed by a direct PCR method in fecal samples from mothers at 30-35 weeks of gestation and from infants at 1 month of age and from breast-milk samples 1 month post-partum.


Fecal Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Bifidobacterium bifidum colonization frequencies and counts among mother-infant pairs correlated significantly (P=0.005 and 0.02 for frequencies, respectively, and P=0.002 and 0.01 for counts, respectively). Only infants of allergic, atopic mothers were colonized with B. adolescentis. Each of the breast-milk samples contained bifidobacteria [median 1.4 x 10(3) bacterial cells/mL; interquartile range (IQR) 48.7-3.8 x 10(3)]. Bifidobacterium longum was the most frequently detected species in breast-milk. Allergic mothers had significantly lower amounts of bifidobacteria in breast-milk compared with non-allergic mothers [median 1.3 x 10(3) bacterial cells/mL (IQR 22.4-3.0 x 10(3)) vs. 5.6 x 10(3) bacterial cells/mL (1.8 x 10(3)-1.8 x 10(4)), respectively, (P=0.004)], and their infants had concurrently lower counts of bifidobacteria in feces [3.9 x 10(8) bacterial cells/g (IQR 6.5 x 10(6)-1.5 x 10(9)) in infants of allergic mothers, vs. 2.5 x 10(9) bacterial cells/g (6.5 x 10(8)-3.2 x 10(10)) in infants of non-allergic mothers, P=0.013].


Breast-milk contains significant numbers of bifidobacteria and the maternal allergic status further deranges the counts of bifidobacteria in breast-milk. Maternal fecal and breast-milk bifidobacterial counts impacted on the infants' fecal Bifidobacterium levels. Breast-milk bacteria should thus be considered an important source of bacteria in the establishment of infantile intestinal microbiota.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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