Microbes, Human Milk, and Prebiotics

Magdalena Kujawska, Maria Carmen Collado, Lindsay J. Hall

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Diet–microbe interactions play a crucial role in the early-life developmental window, exerting health effects in infancy that also extend to later life stages. Breastfeeding is the gold standard infant nutrition that is associated with healthy gut-associated microbial community development, optimal immune system maturation, and defense against pathogens. During early life, maternal breast milk “seeds” the neonate with milk-derived microbes, and acts as a natural prebiotic feeding certain bacterial strains and species, including members of genus Bifidobacterium. Benefits of breastfeeding are largely unavailable to infants fed with formula, therefore addition of prebiotics that can mimic functions of unique breast milk components, for example, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), is used to promote infant well-being. Later in infancy, complementary feeding during weaning provides essential nutrients and further prebiotic compounds, which promote the acquisition and colonization of a higher diversity of gut bacteria, enhancing bacterial production of beneficial metabolites, thus further supporting healthy infant development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Human Microbiome in Early Life
Subtitle of host publicationImplications to Health and Disease
EditorsOmry Koren, Samuli Rautava
Number of pages41
ISBN (Electronic)9780128180983
ISBN (Print)9780128180976
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sep 2020

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