How Probiotics in Breast Milk Strengthen a Baby’s Immune System

When it comes to disease prevention, there is nothing more important than your own immune system, and making sure it is as healthy as possible. Immune cells and stomach bacteria in our mother’s womb are the first living organisms we encounter. That’s why probiotics in breast milk help boost a newborn’s immune response to its new environment.

How Gut Flora and Viral Infections Disrupt Immunity

The immune system is your body’s frontline defense against pathogens, bacteria, diseases, and more. Our T-Cells and B-Cells ensure we’re not sick all the time, or worse–combating gastrointestinal distress and chronic illness.

Recipe for Wellness

When you get infected, your body immediately releases an immune response, and go to fight off the attacker. Once the harmful intestinal flora, inflammation, or virus is destroyed, your body generates antibodies.

Antibodies are specifically designed to fight off the attacker if it ever comes again. This biological process is the backbone behind the theory why vaccines have helped reduce the instances of measles, mumps, and Polio over the past several decades [1].

Intestinal Flora from Mom to Child

All of the benefits that can be seen transferring from mom to the child, comes from a little known substance known as Colostrum [2]. Colostrum is a fluid that comes out with the breast milk for a few days after the baby is born. This is vital for the growth and well-being of the infant.

Okay, if only all breastfeeding sessions looked this majestic!

When babies are fed formula instead of probiotics in breast milk, this can change the baby’s whole body composition [3].

This composition change is because Colostrum has a lot of growth factors and antioxidants, which can increase muscle growth and ligament repair over time.

Studies done on Colostrum is often done using cow’s milk. This is because it has a far higher concentration of Colostrum than human breast milk does. These studies have found a ton of significant effects on mice as well as on humans who used it.

For instance, studies have shown that athletes who used Colostrum have higher lean muscle mass and better performance after a period of 8 weeks [4].  Even the Center for Nutritional Research agrees that this is not only healthy for consumption, but can help lose weight, and reduce recovery time.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), probiotics in breast milk are important for newborns developing into children without health issues.

In a study on the long-term effects of breastfeeding, WHO stated,


“Breastfeeding was associated with a lower risk of type-2 diabetes.”

WHO

Without breastfeeding, the child is far more prone to diseases in infections early on in life. With that being said, it’s always a woman’s decision. If you choose to go the formula route, please consult a physician.

The Baby and Immunity

There have been plenty of studies to date that show a positive effect of Colostrum on a wide variety of factors. For instance, a mouse study done gave one group of mice Colostrum and then infected them all with Influenza. The mice that had Colostrum were better able to handle influenza compared to the control group [5].

No bond like mother and child

It is believed that Colostrum binds to pathogens, viruses, and allergens and neutralizes them. This helps keep the baby of suffering from sickness while the body is still adjusting to the outside world.

Colostrum is also rich in proline-rich polypeptides, otherwise known as PRPs.

These appear to help regulate the immune system in infants and maintain a balance within their body [6]. Due to this, PRPs are able to reduce inflammation. This puts less pressure on the immune system, allowing these cells to function better against dangers.

Probiotics in Breast Milk is Prebiotics of Baby Stomach Bacteria

Cute when sick, but we prefer healthy babies!

One of the more critical benefits of Colostrum would be the fact that it seems to be extremely useful when it comes to gut health. Since these fluids allow the cells to bind tightly together, Colostrum may be able to prevent things such as inflammation or as gastrointestinal distress.

Besides probiotics in breast milk, there are also prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for beneficial bacteria in the gut, thus increasing gut flora diversity.

Breast milk prebiotics are sugars that help feed the intestinal flora in the infant’s stomach. Sugars in breast milk can’t be broken down by the infant’s digestive system, so it serves as energy for beneficial bacteria to grow and flourish.

Probiotics in Milk and the Microbiome

Probiotics for Baby
Probiotics in breast milk: As nature intended it

The milk itself also contains a ton of probiotics. So basically, it is a microbiome of its own. This makes a lot of sense if you consider what milk is for. It is explicitly designed to help a young baby grow quickly and effectively. Milk provides all of the nutrients, growth factors, and probiotics that a baby needs to thrive.

Since the mother and the baby spends so much time close to each other, the infant’s immune system is able to learn to gradually cope with a lot of the same pathogens and bacteria that the mother is already used to.

Colostrum, Stomach Bacteria, and Metabolism

Metabolism is also affected by the use of Colostrum. For instance, there have been studies done on mice to see what this can do with people who had insulin resistance. At the end of the study, the mice that got the treatment had fewer factors that could lead to liver damage and insulin resistance [7].

If these are the benefits that are seen in full-grown adults, just imagine what it must be like for infants who consume it from their mothers. These benefits are not only helpful for growing newborns but actually vital for them as well.

Microbiome Testing and Alternatives to Breastfeeding

There are many reasons why a mother may decide to use baby formula instead of breastfeeding. It may be due to sickness, inability to breastfeed, or many other factors. In this case, baby formula is a healthy alternative, but it should be known that the child will not receive any of these benefits.

For women adamant about not breastfeeding, it’s their prerogative and they should never be shamed. If you are opting out of breastfeeding and still have immune concerns for your child, there are some alternatives.

Microbiome Testing

First, take a gut test. If you determine bacteria in stomach, you will know which intestinal flora interacted with your child.

Microbiome Testing
Your immune health is your baby’s, Thryve Inside

With microbiome testing, you can go into a discussion with your doctor more educated on the gut flora in your child.

With the results of your gut health test, you can make a more educated decision about which formula is best for your child’s needs.

Mothers who are pumping their breast milk, you can strengthen your child’s immune system by strengthening yours.

With microbiome testing, we can figure out which bacteria in stomach may be causing your GI issues.

Personalized Probiotics

Based on your gut flora, we formulate personalized probiotics that may help boost your immune response. In turn, the probiotics in breast milk that you pump will promote your child’s immune cell activity as well. Let’s take a look at the strong link colostrum in breast milk and how it strengthens the child’s immune system.

Probiotics for Child

Work with your doctor to see if you can supplement probiotics for your child. While they will not get the growth factors or any of the other benefits, supplementing can help boost a child’s immune system, and increase their gut health.

Although it is important to note that you have to be careful when supplementing. Some supplements may be low-quality or even be contaminated with strains of fungus and other bacteria.

This concern is why breastfeeding is so vital. Colostrum is a natural source of high-quality of the probiotics in breast milk. If you are willing to administer supplements to your child, make sure you do so under the supervision of your doctor.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] Hendriks, J., & Blume, S. (2013). Measles vaccination before the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. American journal of public health103(8), 1393–1401. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301075

[2] Hurley, W. L., & Theil, P. K. (2011). Perspectives on immunoglobulins in colostrum and milk. Nutrients3(4), 442–474. doi:10.3390/nu3040442

[3] Gale, Chris, et al. “Effect of Breastfeeding Compared with Formula Feeding on Infant Body Composition: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22301930.

[4] “The Effects of Bovine Colostrum Supplementation on Body Composition and Exercise Performance in Active Men and Women.” Nutrition, Elsevier, 12 Apr. 2001, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899900700005529?via%3Dihub.

[5] Ng, W. C., Wong, V., Muller, B., Rawlin, G., & Brown, L. E. (2010). Prevention and treatment of influenza with hyperimmune bovine colostrum antibody. PloS one5(10), e13622. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013622

[6] Hill, D. R., & Newburg, D. S. (2015). Clinical applications of bioactive milk components. Nutrition reviews73(7), 463–476. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv009

[7] Mizrahi, M., Shabat, Y., Ben Ya’acov, A., Lalazar, G., Adar, T., Wong, V., … Ilan, Y. (2012). Alleviation of insulin resistance and liver damage by oral administration of Imm124-E is mediated by increased Tregs and associated with increased serum GLP-1 and adiponectin: results of a phase I/II clinical trial in NASH. Journal of inflammation research5, 141–150. doi:10.2147/JIR.S35227