Russian Microflora and Breast Milk Orchestrates Bacteria Growth

Breastfeeding WPA poster
Breast milk also contains nutrients for baby’s intestinal flora.
This week, we find that human milk provides nutrients for different bacterial strains; the environment influences microflora, and a Danish study find no IBS improvement after probiotic treatment.

Mother’s Milk Feeds Baby’s Intestinal Bacteria
Human milk contains a number of indigestible sugars called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). These sugars are known to have prebiotic properties and support the growth of good Bifidobacteria in young infants. However, it isn’t known which sugars are needed to support specific Bifidobaceria species. An American study now brings us one step closer to understanding how this works. They determined that while some HMOs supported the growth of a wide variety of Bifidobacterium breve strains, others were preferred by only a select few strains. This appeared to be dependent on the enzymes produced by the bacterial strains.

Russian Regional Microflora
Determining how the environment shapes the intestinal flora of the human residents is of interest to researchers looking for the basis of disease. To aid this study, Russian researchers have now looked at differences in the intestinal microbiota between different kinds of populations, specifically: country and city dwellers. They found that these populations did, indeed, have characteristic flora, with the main differences being in the phyla of Bacteroidetes and Firmucutes.

Probiotic Fails to Help IBS
In a Danish study, researchers attempted to manage irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) using a probiotic mixture of Lactobacillus paracasei ssp paracasei F19, Lactobacillus acidophilus La5 and Bifidobacterium lactis Bb12 during a six-month treatment protocol. Although all patients felt like they were getting better, no significant improvements were noted when the treated group was compared to the placebo group at the end of the study.


  • Begtrup LM, de Muckadell OB, Kjeldsen J, et al. Long-term treatment with probiotics in primary care patients with irritable bowel syndrome – a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Scand J Gastroenterol 2013;48:1127-35.
  • Ruiz-Moyano S, Totten SM, Garrido DA, et al. Variation in Consumption of Human Milk Oligosaccharides by Infant Gut-Associated Strains of Bifidobacterium breve. Appl Environ Microbiol 2013;79:6040-9.
  • Tyakht AV, Kostryukova ES, Popenko AS, et al. Human gut microbiota community structures in urban and rural populations in Russia. Nat Commun 2013;4:2469.