The human milk microbiota is modulated by maternal diet

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Human milk microorganisms contribute not only to the healthy development of the immune system in infants, but also in shaping the gut microbiota. We evaluated the effect of the maternal diet during pregnancy and during the first month of lactation on the human milk microbiota in a cross-sectional study including 94 healthy lactating women. Microbiota composition was determined by 16S rDNA profiling and nutrient intake assessed through food questionnaires. Thirteen genera were present in at least 90% of all samples, with three genera present in all samples: Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Corynebacterium. Cluster analysis indicated two distinct compositions: one marked by a high abundance of Streptococcus (cluster 1), and other by a high abundance of Staphylococcus (cluster 2). A global association with milk microbiota diversity was observed for vitamin C intake during pregnancy (p = 0.029), which was higher for cluster 2 individuals (cluster 2 median = 232 mg/d; cluster 1 = 175 mg/d; p = 0.02). Positive correlations were found between Bifidobacterium in the milk and intake of polyunsaturated and linoleic fatty acids during the lactation period (p < 0.01). We show that maternal diet influences the human milk microbiota, especially during pregnancy, which may contribute in shaping the gut microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Article number502
Issue number11
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Breast milk, Breastfeeding, Gut colonization, Maternal diet, Microbiota

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