Breastfeeding linked to less antibiotic-resistant bacteria in infants, study finds

Breastfed infants develop gut bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics and therefore boost the infants' over all immune system to antibiotic resistance, according to a study published by Nature Communications.

Here are four things to know:

1. For the study, researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland sequenced the bacterial DNA found in the milk and fecal matter of 16 mother and infant pairs in which infants were born vaginally at full term and did not receive antibiotics during the first six months of life. Eight mothers received penicillin or Cephalothin during labor, while 10 took probiotic supplements containing various bacterium two months before and after their delivery.

2. Researchers found infants who were breastfed for at least six months had a smaller number of resistant bacteria in their gut than babies who were breastfed for a short time or never breastfed.

3. Infants whose mothers took an antibiotic treatment during delivery had a larger amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their guts.

4. Researchers found breast milk samples contained bacteria resistant to antibiotics, which mothers were more likely to pass on to the babies through their milk. However, researchers concluded breastfeeding still proves beneficial for infants, as the sugars in breast milk help good bacteria thrive in infants' guts.

"As a general rule, it could be said that all breastfeeding is for the better," study author Katariina Pärnänen, a microbiologist and PhD student at University of Helsinki, told Science Daily.

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