Background/Aims: To measure the microbiota present in breast milk (BM), infant faeces (IF) and maternal faeces (MF).
Methods: In an observational study, sixty-nine healthy women and their infants donated BM, IF and MF at 6-8 weeks postpartum. Bacterial DNA was extracted from the breast milk and faeces using a MO-BIO PowerSoil DNA isolation kit. An initial PCR was run to amplify the V3-V4 hypervariable region of the 16S rRNA gene. After the PCR products were purified they were sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq Next-Generation sequencing platform. QIIME software was used to analyse the sequencing data, with reference against the Greengenes core reference database.
Results: Strong positive correlations (Spearman’s rank-correlation coefficient of >0.7) were found between Roseburia in BM, MF and IF; Faecalibacterium in BM, MF and IF; Ruminococcaceae in BM, MF and IF; Lachnospiraceae in BM, MF and IF; Lachnospira in BM and IF; Veillonella in BM and MF and Ruminococcus in BM and MF.
Conclusions: There were significant overlaps in the bacterial taxa present in the breast milk, infant faeces and maternal faeces. This observational research suggests that, through mechanisms not yet fully understood (i.e. entero-mammary pathway), maternal gut-associated microbiota may be shared with the infant via breastfeeding. This may be a key step in the colonisation of the infant gut by commensal gut-associated microbiota.
Funding source(s): Nutricia New Zealand and Callaghan Innovation