24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
Fax: (361)578-5500

Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Basic Information
Infant Development: How Your Baby Grows and MaturesInfant Parenting: Keeping Your Baby Healthy and HappyInfant Safety: Keeping Your Baby SafeInfant Enrichment: Stimulating Your Baby
More InformationLatest News
Nurses Can Make the Difference for New Moms' BreastfeedingBig Babies May Face Higher Lifelong A-Fib RiskNewborns of Moms With COVID-19 Face Little Infection Risk: StudyMost Newborns of COVID-19-Infected Moms Fare WellBaby's Heart Rate Reflects Mom's Mental HealthCould Antibiotics Make Breast Milk Less Healthy for Babies?Breastfeeding OK After Mom Has Anesthesia, Experts SayWith Safety Steps, Moms Unlikely to Pass COVID-19 to Newborns: StudyLupus Drug Prevents Low Heartbeat in High-Risk Newborns: StudyExposure to Iodine in the NICU May Affect Infant Thyroid FunctionZika May Have Damaged More Infants' Brains Than ExpectedCOVID-19 Typically Mild for Babies: StudyBaby's Sleep Issues Could Sometimes Signal Autism: StudyBreast Milk May Help Shield Infants From Dangerous VirusesScreen Time for Tiniest Tots Linked to Autism-Like SymptomsNewborns With COVID-19 May Suffer Only Mild Symptoms, Study SaysBabies Are Spared Severe COVID-19 SymptomsCould Dad-to-Be's Health Affect His Newborn's Health?Sleepless Babies May Face Emotional Troubles as KidsBabies' Exposure to Household Cleaning Products Tied to Later Asthma RiskZika Damage Showing Up in Babies Deemed 'Normal' at BirthOut-of-Pocket Medical Costs Average $4,500 for Many New U.S. ParentsAnother Possible Effect of Climate Change: More Preemie BabiesOpioid Exposure in Womb Alters the Infant BrainInfants May Not Be as Immune to Measles as ThoughtGive Newborn to Mom Right Away -- After Moving the ElectrodesHigh-Tech Pacifier Might Monitor Baby's Blood Sugar
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)

Could Antibiotics Make Breast Milk Less Healthy for Babies?

HealthDay News
by By Steven ReinbergHealthDay Reporter
Updated: Sep 8th 2020

new article illustration

TUESDAY, Sept. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Mom's breast milk can be altered by antibiotics in ways that might harm an infant's health, according to a new study.

The Canadian researchers were particularly concerned with an increase in bacteria that can be harmful, namely a bacterium called Pseudomonas that can cause a serious intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis in a preterm infant.

About 7% of preterm infants develop this frequently fatal condition, in which part of the bowel dies. Also, a class of antibiotics called cephalosporins had a significant dampening effect on the diversity of microbiota in breast milk, the researchers noted.

"The bacteria in breast milk has the potential to transfer to a preterm infant's gut and shape their short- and long-term health and development," explained lead researcher Michelle Asbury, from the department of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto.

"Although we observed changes in the breast milk bacteria based on maternal factors, research is now needed to see whether these changes impact infant health," she added.

For the study, Asbury and her colleagues looked at 490 samples of breast milk from 86 mothers of preterm infants.

The mother's weight and type of delivery had an influence on the microbiota in the breast milk. But antibiotics, particularly when taken for weeks, had effects on microbes that play a role in disease, gut health and processes that aid in growth and development, the researchers found.

"The understanding of maternal breast milk of mothers who deliver a preterm infant is a vastly understudied area," said Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.

"This study sheds some light on the understanding and importance of this issue," said Kramer, who wasn't involved with the research. "Additional studies are now needed to understand whether these observed changes in the microbial content of breast milk translate into changes in infant GI colonization and long-term health outcomes of preterm infants, especially with the high rate of morbidity and developmental challenges in this vulnerable population."

Still, Asbury stressed, "Despite the changes we observed in the breast milk bacteria from antibiotics, mothers should continue taking antibiotics that are prescribed by their physician while also providing breast milk to their infant when possible.

"However, we hope our findings will encourage discussions among physicians to carefully choose which antibiotics they prescribe and for how long," she said.

Asbury's report was published online Sept. 3 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, looked over the study findings and said that breast milk is important for promoting gut flora in babies.

"For premature infants who may have serious intestinal issues like necrotizing enterocolitis, this is especially true," she said.

This study highlights different changes that can occur in the makeup of the breast milk, Wu said.

"Some of the factors such as mode of delivery may not be alterable. Others such as maternal weight could be affected by encouraging patients to achieve ideal body weight for pregnancy. Caution in giving mothers antibiotics would be a good practice for both mother and baby," she said.

More information

For more on breast milk, see the American Pregnancy Association.