STUDY: 90% U.S. Infants Lack Gut Bacteria Species Essential for Absorbing Nutrients From Breast Milk

Formula, antibiotics and c-sections have wiped out a species of bacteria necessary for breast milk digestion and immune system development in 9 out of 10 American infants

Wonder why your baby has colic, indigestion or diaper rash? It could be because he lacks a bacteria essential for human life, one that lets him breakdown milk, absorb the nutrients from it, and have a fully functioning immune system.

A shocking new study of hundreds of babies from around the country shows a whopping 9 out of 10 of them are missing the crucial gut bacteria Bifidobacterium infantis.

This specific species of bacteria provides “the most beneficial impact on infant gut health and possesses the ability to fully unlock the nutritional benefits of breast milk,” the researchers from Stanford University and University of Nebraska say.

B. infantis differs from other Bifidobacteria in its unique ability to break down carbohydrates found in human breast milk, whose nutrients are otherwise inaccessible to the infant.

“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,” said Stanford professor of pediatrics Karl Sylvester.

B. infantis has increasingly been linked to the development of the infant immune system, the researchers say, “protecting the infant intestinal tract from potentially dangerous bacteria as well as lower incidence of common childhood conditions like colic and diaper rash.”

Shockingly, the study found that 93% of all bacteria in the average infant’s gut microbiome is considered to be “potentially dangerous,” (aka antibiotic-resistant and “invasive”). The most prevalent species include E. coli, Salmonella, Strep, Staph, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Clostridium difficile.

So where did all the “good” bacteria go? Bifidobacteria has been disappearing rapidly in American infant guts over the past 100 years due to increased C-section delivery, increased use of antibiotics, and increased use of infant formula, the researchers say.

“The infant gut microbiome in the United States is clearly dysfunctional, and we believe this is a critical factor underpinning many of the infant and childhood ailments we see today across the country,” Sylvester said.