Breast milk is nature’s way of introducing gut microbiota in an infant and so it directly contributes to the establishment of the infant intestinal microbiome. Equipping us with the information that breast milk contains an antibody which provides immunity from diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) throughout life, by creating a line of defence in the gut microflora of breastfed infants. This is an observation recorded during an experiment with mice recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by a research team at the University of Kentucky. These above findings are evidence to the fact that breast milk is a persisting cause of immunity even in adults. Most of these important benefits are transferred via the microbial colonies residing in the intestine- the gut microflora.

Babies are naturally sterile; however, their body becomes a host to millions of external bacteria from their birth itself. They need a steady influx of probiotic organisms during important developmental years. Some of these microorganisms escape into the digestive tract, this marks the onset of the journey of gut microflora. These bacteria are not only “not-harmful” but also play a very pivot role in human health. They are the reasons we can digest certain kind of naturally indigestible food, strengthen immunity and also act as predators for infectious microbes invading the intestines.

Scientists have laid special emphasis on a very important and specific component present in breast milk: SIgAantibody. Adult humans are capable of producing this naturally but babies cannot, thereby making this lacteal secretion the only sourcefor them.

A test was conducted on mutatedlactating rodent mothers whose milk did not contain SIgA. It was then observed that the guts of their young ones were home to multitudinous bacterial colonies, way higher than the standard ones.Strikingly these colonies included certain groups that are basically observed in patients suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Subsequently, the mice were exposed to intake of food that results in intestinal inflammation. This lead to the mice’s gut microflora reacting by instigation a certain set of genes that seem to be connect to, Inflammatory Bowel Disease in humans.

Hence, the findings above are evidences enough depicting that breastfed babies are probably less likely to suffer from IBD in the later stages of their life. Currently studies are being conducted to understand that whether supplementation with SIgA, or consumption of antibody by adults having intestinal issues, may lead to an upgradation in health.