Call 413.540.1234 to
schedule an appointment
CONCERN/EAP: 413.534.2625
Billing questions? Call: 413.540.1212
CRISIS: 413.733.6661

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
Infant Pain Heightened After Opioid Exposure in WombPutting Your Child to Sleep in a Car Seat Can Be DeadlySwallowed Batteries Should Be Removed to Avoid Stomach Damage: StudyHealth Tip: Physical Milestones at Age OneWhat to Do When Your Child Throws a FitLow Birth Weight Babies a Worldwide ProblemQuieter NICUs a Good Rx for Premature BabiesHow to Soothe Baby's Teething Pain SafelyHow to Protect Your Child From ChokingNearly 700,000 Infant Rocking Sleepers Recalled Due to Infant DeathsBreast Milk Has Biggest Benefit for Preemies' Brains: StudyBabies Still Dying Due to Unsafe Sleep PracticesHealth Tip: Choosing a Car SeatHot-Car Deaths Hit Record High in 2018Newborn's 'Microbiome' Could Give Clues to Weight LaterKids' ER Visits for Swallowing Toys, Foreign Objects Have Doubled Since 1990sHealth Tip: Treating an Infant's FeverPediatricians' Group Calls for Recall of 'Rock 'n Play' Sleeper After Infant DeathsPreventing Kids' Food Allergies Starts in InfancyTen Infant Deaths Linked to Fisher-Price Rock 'N Play SleepersBaby-Led Eating: A Healthier ApproachIs That Medication Safe When Breastfeeding?Fussy Baby May Raise Mom's Risk of DepressionExposing Baby to Foods Early May Help Prevent AllergiesSmoking While Pregnant Sends SIDS Risk SoaringKeep Your Child Safe in Her High Chair6 Years: How Long New Parents Can Expect to Lose SleepHealth Tip: Choking Hazards for ChildrenFeatherlight, Wireless Sensors Let Parents Cuddle Their PreemiesPainless Ways to Limit Your Kids' Screen TimeBreastfeeding May Cut Kids' Eczema RiskScreen Time for the Very Young Has Doubled in 20 Years: StudyGlass-Fronted Fireplaces Pose Burn Dangers for KidsUp to 1 Hour of General Anesthesia Safe for Infants: StudyPumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed VersionHealth Tip: Signs of Vision Problems in InfantsClimate Change Could Bring More Infant Heart Defects: StudyOpioid Danger to Newborns Varies By RegionToo Much Screen Time a Damper on Child's DevelopmentHealth Tip: Talk to Your BabyIVF Won't Cause Birth Complications: StudyBaby Steps Head Off a Fussy EaterWhy It's Important to Boost Baby's Vocabulary NowDecoding Newborn's DNA Could Pinpoint Hidden RisksTeething Jewelry Linked to at Least One Baby's Death: FDAHealth Tip: Keep Toys SimpleNose Holds Clues to Baby's First ColdOpioids Exact Another Toll on Newborns: Smaller HeadsScans, Ultrasound Spot Zika Brain DefectsCost of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: $23,000 Annually Per Case
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)

Pumped Breast Milk Falls Short of Breastfed Version

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Feb 13th 2019

new article illustration

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Pumped breast milk might not be quite as good as milk that comes directly from Mom's breast, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that breast milk from women who pumped tended to have more potentially bad bacteria -- and less abundance and diversity of friendly germs -- than milk from women who only fed their infants from the breast.

The study is the latest step in a newer area of research: What determines the makeup of bacteria in breast milk, and what are the potential effects on babies' health?

"Until about 10 years ago, it was assumed that breast milk is sterile," explained senior researcher Meghan Azad.

However, the human body is teeming with resident bacteria and other germs. And research is beginning to illuminate how those "bugs" -- particularly ones in the gut -- affect body processes and disease risks.

Some of those studies have focused on breast milk, finding that it actually contains an abundance of bacteria, according to Azad. But that leaves a lot of questions unanswered, including: Where do those bacteria come from? And what factors make breast milk from one woman different from another's?

One theory is that bacteria "migrate" from the mother's intestinal tract to her breast milk, said Azad, an assistant professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

But there could be other factors at work, she said. The new findings suggest that the way breast milk is delivered -- directly or by pumping -- is one of those factors.

The researchers analyzed breast milk samples from nearly 400 mothers a few months after they'd given birth. A wide variation in microbial balance was found among the samples, Azad said.

But the one factor that was consistently associated with that microbial composition was the mode of feeding -- whether moms only fed their babies from the breast, or used pumped milk.

Milk from moms who pumped tended to be higher in certain bacterial families that can sometimes cause infections, such as Stenotrophomonas and Pseudomonadaceae.

Beyond that, milk from mothers who fed their babies directly had a greater diversity in good bacteria, which is generally considered better. And that included microbes typically found in the mouth.

That finding suggests that babies' oral bacteria are one source of the microbes found in breast milk, according to Azad.

The big question is, what does it all mean?

It's not yet clear whether the mode of feeding affects the balance of bacteria in babies' guts -- or, ultimately, their health or development, Azad said.

Past research, she noted, has shown that gut microbes are important in infants' immune system development. And "disruptions" in those bacteria early in life have been linked to higher risks of allergies and asthma.

Azad said her team plans to look at whether the bacterial composition of breast milk is also related to the risks of those diseases, as well as babies' growth.

"At the end of the day, that's what parents care about," she said.

The findings were published Feb. 13 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

For now, some things are clear: Breast milk -- from the breast or bottle -- is the best source of nutrition for infants, said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, chair of American Academy of Pediatrics' section on breastfeeding.

Feeding from the breast is the "ideal," noted Feldman-Winter, who was not involved in the study. "But the next best thing is expressed [pumped] breast milk," she said.

"We recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life -- however mothers can manage that," Feldman-Winter said.

And, she added, if moms are able to directly breastfeed for even the first few weeks, that's better than never doing it.

That's a critical point in the United States -- which lacks paid maternity-leave policies that could allow more women to directly breastfeed for a prolonged period, Feldman-Winter noted.

As researchers learn more about the benefits of direct breastfeeding, she said, the findings will have not only health implications, but "cultural" ones.

"As a society, we'll have to decide what our values are," Feldman-Winter said. And that may mean finding "creative solutions" to help more working mothers directly breastfeed, she said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more on the benefits of breast milk.