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Breast milk is source of 'good' bugs for babies

BREAST is best for filling babies' digestive systems with essential 'good' bacteria, research has shown.

A thriving population of beneficial gut bugs is vital to an infant's digestive health and immune system development.

The new research suggests that the bacteria can be transferred to a suckling baby in breast milk. Swiss scientists found identical strains of the microbe bifidobacterium breve and several types of 'good' clostridium in both a group of babies and the breast milk they were being fed with.

The strains may help establish a critical nutritional balance in the guts of infants and could be important for preventing intestinal disorders.

Study leader Professor Christophe Lacroix, from the Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health in Zurich, said: "We are excited to find out that bacteria can actually travel from the mother's gut to her breast milk.

"A healthy community of bacteria in the gut of both mother and baby is really important for baby's gut health and immune system development.

"We're not sure of the route the bacteria takes from gut to breast milk, but we have used methods to confirm that they are definitely the same strains."

DNA tests were carried out on the breast milk of seven healthy mothers and their exclusively breast-fed babies who were up to one-month-old.