(HealthDay News) – Gut-associated obligate anaerobes can be transferred from mother to neonate via breastfeeding, according to a study published online Aug. 23 in Environmental Microbiology.

Ted Jost, from the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health in Zurich, and colleagues examined whether breastfeeding correlates with sharing of viable strains of gut-associated obligate anaerobes between the maternal and neonatal gut ecosystems. Culture-independent and culture-dependent methods were used to analyze maternal feces, breast milk, and corresponding neonatal feces obtained from seven mother-neonate pairs at three neonatal sampling points. Pyrosequencing was used to identify gut-associated obligate anaerobic genera.

The researchers found that within one mother-neonate pair, a viable strain of Bifidobacterium breve was shared between all three ecosystems. Butyrate-producing members of the Clostridia (Coprococcus, Faecalibacterium, Roseburia, and Subdoligranulum) were identified by pyrosequencing as being shared between the maternal feces and breast milk.

“This study shows that (viable) obligate gut-associated anaerobes may be vertically transferred from mother to neonate via breastfeeding,” the authors write. “Thus, our data support the recently suggested hypothesis of a novel way of mother-neonate communication, in which maternal gut bacteria reach breast milk via an entero-mammary pathway to influence neonatal gut colonization and maturation of the immune system.”

The study was supported Nestlé Nutrition and Nestec.

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