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Adv Nutr. 2014 Nov 14;5(6):779-84. doi: 10.3945/an.114.007229. Print 2014 Nov.

The origin of human milk bacteria: is there a bacterial entero-mammary pathway during late pregnancy and lactation?

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Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Food Technology, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Human milk is a source of bacteria to the infant gut; however, the origin of milk bacteria, as well as their impact on neonatal gut microbiota establishment, remains largely unknown. In the past years, results provided by different research groups suggest that certain bacteria from the maternal gastrointestinal tract could translocate through a mechanism involving mononuclear immune cells, migrate to the mammary glands via an endogenous cellular route (the bacterial entero-mammary pathway), and subsequently colonize the gastrointestinal tract of the breast-fed neonate. If such findings are confirmed in the future, we could exert a positive influence on infant health by modulating the maternal gut microbiota.

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