Probiotics from Human Milk for Maternal and Infant Health

The first 1,000 days of life, from conception to two years of age, is a critical period in which nutrition can influence development and health for the rest of life. As babies move from a protected environment to one where they are exposed to many health challenges, the gut and immune system develop, and nutrition plays a vital role in shaping our gut microbiota, which plays a fundamental role in maintaining health and supporting immune functions.

With the well-being of a mother and the well-being of her child closely linked, it is essential that women have the nutrition, care and support they need for the healthiest possible future—for themselves and for their children.1  It is well researched that breast milk is the gold standard of infant nutrition, containing all the nutrients required to support a baby´s healthy growth and development and to protect from infections and diseases.2 Breast milk not only provides nutrients to the infant but is also a source of probiotics (milk microbiota) and prebiotics (HMOs) contributing to the establishment of the infant gut microbiota.3

But lifestyle, nutrition, delivery method, antibiotic use, environment and more can all impact the development of our microbiota. With more knowledge about probiotics and how they can support the gut, more mothers are looking to nutritional supplementation to support not only their baby’s health but also breastfeeding and breast care.

Probiotic awareness and scientific advancements are important
Gunjan Pandey, Marketing Director at Kerry SWA explains: “Women around the world are taking proactive approaches to wellbeing and focus on prevention over cure, with research showing that 75% state that they are adopting a long-term approach to health maintenance.4 This is leading to a greater awareness of functional ingredients like probiotics, with consumers in India strongly associating probiotics with both digestive and immune health support.”

But with 43% of consumers in India influenced in purchasing health lifestyle products after seeing research or scientific data claims for the ingredient and high percentages of consumers doing their own research on ingredients, having well-studied, efficacious ingredients that offer sustainable nutrition options is becoming increasingly important to consumers, especially mothers.5

While probiotic research continued to look at the potential health benefits for infants and adults, the presence of bacterial flora (or beneficial bacteria/probiotics) in breast milk had never been investigated since it had always been considered a bacteria-free fluid.

Almost 20 years ago, Biosearch Life, a Kerry company, began a collaboration with the group of Dr. Juan Miguel Rodríguez, professor at the Complutense University of Madrid to better understand the bacterial make up of breastmilk. Biosearch Life was the first company to research breast milk for active compounds that could be beneficial to maternal and infant health and discovered that it is not sterile, and isolated and characterized the probiotics in it. This discovery led to the creation of the unique range of probiotics, Hereditum®.

Hereditum® is the first range of probiotics derived from the human breast milk of healthy mothers, isolated and characterized for the unique health benefits each strain can provide for babies, new mothers and the general population. The range includes:

  • LC40® Infant (Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716) is a clinically-backed and patented probiotic that helps to modulate human defenses, supporting immune and digestive health.
  • LC40® Breastcare (Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716), the first strain isolated from breast milk that supports breast health during breastfeeding.

Both of these strains are backed by unmatched science, highly-stable and can help create innovations in applications such as formulas, supplements, fermented dairy, and sachets. 

Protecting your child’s immune health  – LC40® Infant 
The top reason for giving probiotics, vitamins and supplements to children for many consumers is to support digestive health, just ahead of general health and immune health.6 Said Aanchal A. Kumar, Business Development Manager, Applied Health & Nutrition, “LC40® Infant offers a natural way to support the baby’s immune health, with demonstrated safety and efficacy through unmatched research. In several clinical studies, researchers have reported that LC40® offers a safe and efficient way to protect infants from common infections during childhood, including respiratory infections and diarrhea. For example, researchers observed a 40% reduction in incidence of diarrhoea across 3 studies and a reduction of -27% in the incidence of upper respiratory infections.”7,8,9

Supporting Healthy Breastfeeding – LC40® Breastcare
While breast milk is best for baby, breastfeeding isn’t easy for all mothers. Mastitis is an inflammatory disease of the breast, typically associated with breastfeeding, and known as lactational mastitis. Inflammation and obstruction of mammary ducts, fever, sweating, tiredness, and intense pain often result; mastitis can make lactation difficult and is the main reason why some mothers are forced to stop breastfeeding.

According to the World Health Organization, mastitis affects up to 33% of women during breastfeeding. To support mothers to continue with natural breastfeeding, they need to stay healthy during lactation.

LC40® Breastcare (Lactobacillus fermentum CECT5716) offers an efficient alternative to the use of commonly prescribed antibiotics during lactation. Ultimately, research have reported that LC40® Breastcare helps to promote and maintain natural breastfeeding and supports the health of new mothers throughout lactation.10 For example, in one study, researchers reported a 51% reduction in incidence of mastitis in new mothers taking LC40® vs. control.11,12

By lowering the risk of mastitis recurrence, LC40® Breastcare supports mothers in their journey towards a positive, and enjoyable, breastfeeding experience.

  1. 2Yang I. et al. Nurs. Res 2016; 65(1): 76-88. 3Moosavi et al. Front Pediatr. 2018; 6: 197.
  2. Yang I. et al. Nurs. Res 2016; 65(1): 76-88.
  3. Moosavi et al. Front Pediatr. 2018; 6: 197
  4. FMCG GURUS: Women’s Health in 2021
  5. Source: Kerry Global Consumer Survey - Digestive & Immune Health, 2019–2021
  6. Source:  Euromonitor Health and Nutrition Survey 2021
  7. Maldonado J, et al. BMC Pediatr. 2019;19(1):361. 
  8. Maldonado J, et al. J Pediatr Gastro. 2012;54: 55–61
  9. Gil-Campos M, et al. Pharmacol Res. 2012;65(2)231-8ç
  10. Hurtado JA, et al. Breastfeed Med. 2017;12(4):202–209
  11. Hurtado JA, et al. Breastfeed Med. 2017;12(4):202–209
  12. Arroyo R, et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2010;50(12):1551-8

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