Has your baby been prescribed antibiotics while they are breastfeeding or been taking them shortly afterward? If so, then there may be some bad news for you.
New studies suggest that early use of antibiotics dampen the benefits of breastfeeding.
“In breast milk, unlike in formula milk, the infant receives bacteria from the mother and specific sugar components that promote the growth of certain [gut] bacteria,” explained lead researcher Katri Korpela, from the immunobiology research program at the University of Helsinki in Finland.
The health benefits of breastfeeding are derived from how it aids the baby’s development of intestinal bacteria (microbiota), but the introduction of antibiotics in the system disrupts that development.
“Antibiotic use disrupts the natural microbiota development, which appears important for the development of the infant’s metabolism and immune system.”
Echoing Katri Korpela sentiments, Dr. Pietro Vajro, a professor of pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Salerno in Italy who also co-authored an editorial that accompanied the study, said that antibiotics use during the baby’s breastfeeding stages modifies intestinal microflora [gut bacteria] in an unfavorable way.
He also added that this may have lifetime consequences: Intestinal bacteria regulate the production of fatty acids, which then influence the secretion of molecules that determine the way the gut handles food and feelings of fullness.
As a result, this may affect a child’s development of obesity.
“Such dysfunction may cause a chronic inflammation in the bloodstream that is characteristic not only of obesity, but also of a number of obesity-related conditions, such as fatty liver disease and metabolic syndrome,” said Dr. Pietro Vajro.
In a data collected from 226 Finnish children, 97 percent of whom were breastfed, the researchers found that among the 113 babies who weren’t given antibiotics before weaning, breastfeeding was linked to fewer infections after weaning and lower weights as kids.
“It’s well known that breast-fed babies will always do better in fighting infection because of the immunity offered in mother’s milk,” said Dr. William Muinos, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. “Antibiotics kill the bacteria in the gut. If you are not breast-fed, you are not introducing the healthy [probiotic] bacteria.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Munios is not convinced that breastfeeding and obesity is linked to gut bacteria, but he does think that breastfeeding may delay the introduction of foods that are linked to obesity.
“Breast-feeding prevents the early introduction of highly rich carbohydrate meals, like cereals and fruit compotes, that can make a toddler obese,” he said.
READ: 7 Breastfeeding Tips for the Working Filipino Mom
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