Bifidobacteria are considered to be one of the most important beneficial intestinal bacteria for infants, contributing to the priming of the mucosal immune system. These microbes can also be detected in mother's milk, suggesting a potential role of human milk in the colonisation of infant's gut. However, little is known about the timing of bacteria appearance in human milk, and whether human milk is the first source of inoculation. Here, we investigated whether specific strains are shared sustainably between maternal milk and infant's gut. Faecal samples and human milk were collected from 102 healthy mother-infant pairs (infant's faeces: meconium, 7, 30 days of age; mother's milk: once before delivery, colostrum, 7, 30 days after delivery). Bifidobacterial strains were isolated from these samples, and were discriminated by means of multilocus sequencing typing. No bifidobacteria were detected from human milk collected before delivery, or colostrum. Strains were isolated only from human milk samples obtained 7 days after birth or later. On the other hand, bifidobacterial strains were obtained from infant's faeces throughout the study period, sometimes as early as the first day of life (meconium). We have found that bifidobacterial species belonging to Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium breve, and Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum could be identified as monophyletic between infant's faeces and their mother's milk. These strains were confirmed to be sustainably shared between maternal milk and infant's gut. Moreover, monophyletic strains were isolated at the same time point or earlier from infant's faeces than from human milk, and none were isolated earlier from human milk than from infant's faeces. Although it remains unclear whether human milk is the first source of microbes for infants, our results confirm that human milk is a reservoir of bifidobacteria, and specific strains are shared between infant's intestine and human milk during breastfeeding.
- Breast milk
- Intestinal microbiota