Infants start life without a developed microbiome. The microbiome is acquired during the first 1,000 days of life. It is the only time in the human lifespan where a whole microbiome is created – certain strains of bacteria acquired at this time remain with you for your whole life.
In this presentation, David Mills examines in detail the composition of human milk and how those components work together to shape the microbiome.
The microbiota-shaping elements of human breast milk include immunoglobulins, lysozyme, lactoferrin and triglycerides. The presentation details recent research that shows the number of bifido bacteria that children have early on is correlated with the robustness of their vaccine response in the first year of life, and the likelihood of allergy development.
David Mills goes on to look at the mechanism of human milk oligosaccharide consumption by bifidobacterium in the infant gut.
By comparing microbiome data from many countries around the world, from groups of two-month old infants that had not been treated with antibiotics, a recent study demonstrated that milk is being consumed very differently by these children, depending on their environment.
Human milk is a great food to study to understand microbiota interaction. The complexity of that process is driven by glycan processing. If we can begin to understand how gylcans are consumed, we can design supplemental products that could prevent health problems in later life.