Breast Feeding

Breastmilk Sugars Shown To Fight Infections And Protect Against Preterm Births

Breastfeeding has long been recognized as a way to keep newborns healthy, but new research suggests that certain sugars found in breastmilk could also protect against infections before birth. Scientists have discovered that these sugars can effectively combat a common prenatal infection in human tissues and pregnant mice. This finding may have significant implications for preventing preterm births and complications without the need for antibiotics.

baby breastfeeding

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a commonly observed bacteria that can pose risks during pregnancy. If left untreated, GBS infections can lead to serious consequences for both the mother and baby. While antibiotics are commonly used to treat GBS, they can also contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains. However, several compounds naturally present in breast milk, including human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), have been shown to have antibacterial properties. Previous research indicated that HMOs could inhibit the growth of GBS in laboratory settings and reproductive cells. Before HMOs can be considered a practical treatment option, researchers needed to understand how they worked in various tissues and in a live organism.

The research team conducted experiments using human tissues infected with GBS and an organoid model of the vagina. When they introduced a combination of HMOs that mimicked the composition of breast milk, the bacteria were unable to adhere and form colonies. The researchers then tested the HMO mixture on pregnant mice infected with GBS. The treated mice showed normal levels of inflammation, reduced bacterial presence in reproductive tissues, and no instances of preterm birth or maternal deaths. These findings highlight the potential of HMOs to serve as a therapeutic option for treating GBS infections and preventing adverse outcomes during pregnancy.

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Photo by Helena Jankovi?ová Ková?ová

About the author

Lisa Arneill

Founder of Growing Your Baby and World Traveled Family. Canadian mom of 2 boys, photo addict, lover of bulldogs, and museumgoer. Always looking for our next vacation spot!

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