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J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2016 Feb;7(1):5-14. doi: 10.1017/S2040174415001233. Epub 2015 Jun 8.

Early microbial contact, the breast milk microbiome and child health.

Author information

1
Department of Pediatrics,University of Turku & Turku University Hospital,Turku,Finland.

Abstract

The significance of contact with microbes in early life for subsequent health has been the subject of intense research during the last 2 decades. Disturbances in the establishment of the indigenous intestinal microbiome caused by cesarean section delivery or antibiotic exposure in early life have been linked to the risk of immune-mediated and inflammatory conditions such as atopic disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and obesity later in life. Distinct microbial populations have recently been discovered at maternal sites including the amniotic cavity and breast milk, as well as meconium, which have previously been thought to be sterile. Our understanding of the impact of fetal microbial contact on health outcomes is still rudimentary. Breast milk is known to modulate immune and metabolic programming. The breast milk microbiome is hypothesized to guide infant gut colonization and is affected by maternal health status and mode of delivery. Immunomodulatory factors in breast milk interact with the maternal and infant gut microbiome and may mediate some of the health benefits associated with breastfeeding. The intimate connection between the mother and the fetus or the infant is a potential target for microbial therapeutic interventions aiming to support healthy microbial contact and protect against disease.

KEYWORDS:

breast milk; immune tolerance; intestinal microbiome

PMID:
26051698
DOI:
10.1017/S2040174415001233
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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