Can we modulate the breastfed infant gut microbiota through maternal diet?

Azhar S Sindi, Donna T Geddes, Mary E Wlodek, Beverly S Muhlhausler, Matthew S Payne, Lisa F Stinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


Initial colonisation of the infant gut is robustly influenced by regular ingestion of human milk, a substance that contains microbes, microbial metabolites, immune proteins, and oligosaccharides. Numerous factors have been identified as potential determinants of the human milk and infant gut microbiota, including maternal diet; however, there is limited data on the influence of maternal diet during lactation on either of these. Here, we review the processes thought to contribute to human milk and infant gut bacterial colonisation and provide a basis for considering the role of maternal dietary patterns during lactation in shaping infant gut microbial composition and function. Although only one observational study has directly investigated the influence of maternal diet during lactation on the infant gut microbiome, data from animal studies suggests that modulation of the maternal gut microbiota, via diet or probiotics, may influence the mammary or milk microbiota. Additionally, evidence from human studies suggests that the maternal diet during pregnancy may affect the gut microbiota of the breastfed infant. Together, there is a plausible hypothesis that maternal diet during lactation may influence the infant gut microbiota. If substantiated in further studies, this may present a potential window of opportunity for modulating the infant gut microbiome in early life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number5
Early online date11 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


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