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Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?

author image Annie Summers
Annie Summers began writing educational materials in 1975. She covers medical topics for various websites and authors public health materials. Summers is registered and certified as a medical/surgical assistant and EKG technician. She is also licensed as a pharmacy technician.
Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
Mother breastfeeding her baby Photo Credit oksun70/iStock/Getty Images

Breast milk is the best possible food for your baby. It contains the correct proportion of the proteins whey and casein. It contains immunoglobulins that protect your baby against the diseases you are immune to and many of the ones you and your family are exposed to, as explained by the American Pregnancy Association. Breast milk does not, however, contain Lactobacillus acidophilus, a beneficial bacteria often just called acidophilus.


Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
Breast milk is intended to be sterile, free of bacteria. Photo Credit baby image by Dron from Fotolia.com

Acidophilus, one of the helpful bacteria called probiotics, colonizes in the intestines to aid digestion and provide a defense against harmful bacteria. Acidophilus does not pass into the breast milk when the mother consumes it in yogurt or from tablets. Acidophilus is a good bacteria, but nature intends mother's milk to be a sterile fluid, free of all bacteria. There is no mechanism to sort out the good probiotic bacteria from the harmful pathogenic ones that can produce disease. To protect the baby, breast milk contains enzymes that can prevent many intestinal infections, such as salmonella and E. coli. Importantly, it also contains a substance called the bifidus factor, which supports the growth of Lactobacillus acidophilus.


Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
Nature is preparing probiotics for your baby well before arrival time. Photo Credit grossesse 49 image by Nathalie P from Fotolia.com

Nature does have a system for getting acidophilus to your baby, even before her first feeding. About halfway through pregnancy, the mother undergoes a hormonal change causing the lining of her vaginal wall to build up a lot of glycogen, which encourages the growth of lactobacilli, including Lactobacillus acidophilus.

Transfer of Lactobacilli

Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
Your baby is bathed with acidophilus during birth. Photo Credit newborn image by jodi mcgee from Fotolia.com

According to the website U.S. Pharmacist, the baby gets bathed with these beneficial acidophilus bacteria during a normal birth. They enter the mouth to begin populating the digestive tract. In addition to providing the first probiotics, the changes in the chemistry of the vaginal wall by the action of the lactobacilli make it more resistant to harmful bacteria. These good bacteria form colonies in the baby's intestines and thrive on breast milk.

Transfer of Bifidobacteria

Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
Bifidobacteria populate the nipples late in pregnancy. Photo Credit sein image by Pascal Péchard from Fotolia.com

The other probiotic that is needed right away is bifidobacteria. This bacteria appears on the mother’s nipples at about the eighth month of pregnancy. Besides populating the baby’s intestines, bifidobacteria repel other bacteria that could be harmful. Bifidobacteria are the predominant bacteria in the intestines of breast-fed infants.


Does Acidophilus Pass Into Breastmilk?
As your child grows and changes, so do the good bacteria. Photo Credit Lausbub image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com

With the first swallow of breast milk, the baby has the most important probiotics needed for him to process it. As he grows and changes, so do the types and numbers of each species of his intestinal bacteria. In an adult’s intestinal tract, there are an estimated 100 trillion bacteria.

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