Its amazing how quickly babies grow in their first few months of life, and this growth is stimulated by the nutrients found in human milk during breast feeding!
Human milk contains everything a baby needs nutritionally to grow and develop healthily. Many tests have been carried out to determine the function of all the bacteria present in breast milk, but there was one bacteria that left scientists puzzled.
A complex sugar know as oligosaccharides, which is present in human milk, is completely indigestible by babies and therefore has no nutritional value, so what is its purpose?
Researchers at the University of California in the Department of Food Science and Technology have found that the bacteria Bifidobacterium Infantis is the only bacteria to feed on the oligosaccharides present in human milk.
Scientists believe that oligosaccharides allow this bacteria to grow and coat the lower intestines to stop the growth of harmful pathogens.
The lower intestine is susceptible to many harmful bacteria and without the presence of oligosaccharides babies will be susceptible to develop harmful diseases. Therefore human milk is a way for mothers to protect their babies!
These findings will contribute to the treatment of premature babies who have not acquired the correct bacteria needed for normal growth and development. If babies develop the wrong bacteria in the gut, they are a risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis which causes the development of holes in the gut wall, leading to infection and possible death.