The results of a study by researchers at Stanford University, the University of Nebraska, and Evolve BioSystems suggest that the vast majority of infants in the United States may exhibit a substantial deficiency in an important gut bacterium that is key to breast milk utilization and immune system development, as well as protection against gut pathogens linked to common newborn conditions such as colic and diaper rash. The metagenomics study, published in Scientific Reports, found that the gut microbiomes of approximately nine out of ten infants were missing Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis), a type of bacteria that plays a critical role in infant health and development. This specific gut bacterium has been widely documented as providing the most beneficial impact on infant gut health, and possessing the ability to fully unlock the nutritional benefits of breast milk.
The study is claimed to be the largest to date to benchmark widespread deficiency in gut bacteria among U.S. infants, and the reduced function of their gut microbiomes that results. “The vast majority of infants are deficient in this key gut bacterium from the earliest weeks of life, and this is completely off the radar for most parents and pediatricians, alike,” said study co-author Karl Sylvester, MD, professor of surgery and pediatrics and associate dean of maternal child health research, Stanford University. “This study provides the clearest picture to date of just how widespread this issue is and highlights the need to address B. infantis deficiency in the infant gut right from the start.” Sylvester and colleagues reported on their findings in a paper titled, “Metagenomic insights of the infant microbiome community structure and function across multiple sites in the United States.”genengnews Metagenomics Analysis Finds 90% of U.S. Infants Studied Lack Key Gut Bacterium for Breast Milk Utilization and Immune System Development