The University of Helsinki recently released a study, investigating the quality and amount of bacteria resistant to antibiotics in breast milk, and the gut of mother-infant pairs, Resulting in three findings.
First infants that were breastfed at least six months had fewer resistant bacteria in their gut than babies that were breastfed a lesser period or not at all. Breastfeeding seems to protect babies from these bacteria.
Second mothers treated with antibiotics during delivery raised the amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the infant gut. This was noticeable six months after the treatment and delivery.
Third breast milk contains bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and the mother is likely to pass these bacteria to the child through the breast milk.
Nature Communications is the journal the findings were published in.
Bacteria Resistant to Antibiotics Found in Breast Milk
Microbiologist Katariina Pärnänen of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry performed the study. Pärnänen and her team investigated the breast milk and fecal matter of 16 mother-infant pairs.
The study revealed for the first time that breast milk indeed contains a large number of genes that provide antibiotic resistance for bacteria, and that these genes, and their host bacteria, are likely transmitted to infants in the breast milk.
Even though breast milk does contain antibiotic resistance bacteria, it also decreases the amount of that bacteria in infants over time. Thus, breastfeeding is better in the long run for decreasing these bacteria. Especially breastfeeding over 6 months of age.
Only SOME of these bacteria is transferred to the infant from the mother. These bacteria reach baby through the environment as well. Making bacteria resistant to antibiotics inevitable. Luckily, this can be decreased through breast milk.
The study does promote the notion that breast feeding is beneficial for infants. Even though breast milk contains bacteria resistant to antibiotics, the sugars in the milk provide sustenance to beneficial gut bacteria in the infant, such as Bifidobacteria, used as probiotics.
Breast milk helps useful bacteria gain ground from resistant pathogens, Which is why infants breastfed at least six months have less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their gut than infants that were nursed a lesser period.
Pärnänen said, “As a general rule, it could be said that all breastfeeding is for the better,” She also went on to say even infants were partially breastfed combined with formula also saw benefits.
The study’s finding was that breast feeding should be continued the first six months and even longer. We knew nursing is over all good for the baby, but now we know it reduces the bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
Bacteria Resistant to Antibiotics
What are bacteria resistant to antibiotics? They are bacteria not controlled or eliminated by antibiotics. In fact, they are able to survive and multiply in the presence of antibiotics.
Some key facts of bacteria resistant to antibiotics:
- Bacteria resistant to antibiotics is among the leading global threat against human health.
- It is estimated bacteria and other micro-organisms resistant to antibiotics and other drugs, by 2050, will cause more deaths than cancer.
- They are present in the human gut whether or not a person has taken antibiotics.
- They can be transmitted by direct contact and in food.
- Not all resistant bacteria cause diseases, therefor do not harm their carriers.
- Since the immune system of an infant is weak, and such bacteria cannot be killed with antibiotics, infections can be fatal.
- Globally, more than 200,000 newborns die each year of infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Cons of Breastfeeding
The reason of discussing just the cons of breastfeeding is it’s assumed breastfeeding is positive for infants development. It is widely recommended an infant is breastfed for at least the first 6 months, and in combination with food for the first year.
- It can be difficult in the beginning. Some women have difficulty with flow, some to little or too much.
- It can be painful with soreness and cracked nipples, breast engorgement, and plugged milk ducts
- More severe, some develop mastitis, a potentially severe breast infection.
- Can take an additional toll on your body while recovering from child birth.
- Additional costs with breast pumps and accessories.
- The need to breast pump or hand express if your off your nursing pattern.
- Potential social awkwardness of breastfeeding in public.
These are some of the cons, surely there are more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey American children who were born between 2009 – 2015. Naturally they offer rationale with the statistics as it is just a survey, but there are some peculiar trends.
The stats for babies that were breastfed, first stat 2009, finishing with 2015:
If you didn’t notice the oddity here is the percentage went up each year in every category. It also shows in 2009 one out of four babies never fed from the boob.
firstyearbabiesandbeyond.com is not a place where you will find judgment. If you visit this site and read the articles regularly you will find each article is thorough rally researched with personal experiences sprinkled in.
The reason for this article is the timeliness of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry study on the quality and amount of bacteria resistant to antibiotics in breast milk.
The study was done October 2018 on a polarizing subject that mothers have had to deal with since the advent of a viable substitute to breast milk.
The study revealed for the first time that breast milk indeed contains a large number of genes that provide antibiotic resistance for bacteria. However, sugars in the breast milk, beneficial infant gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria, are the building blocks for probiotics.
Reviewing the cons of breastfeeding it seems easy to agree, if one is apposed to the discomforts and inconvenience of breastfeeding, one may now have to weigh the dangers of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
With over 200,000 infant deaths worldwide, this is not a risk to be trifled with if you can help it.
As always thanks a bunch for reading this article and please leave all questions, comments and experiences below.