A higher per cent of Bifidobacteria and a lower per cent of Prevotella in baby’s microbiota are associated with a lower BMI and lower obesity later in life; this is controlled by a number of factors, including the duration of breastfeeding.
In the USA, the latest figures from the CDC show child obesity affected 13.4% of 2-5 year olds and 20.3% of 6-11 year-olds. Figures for the UK are almost the same.
Previous studies have looked at the microbiota in animal models or adults. In infants, previous studies have shown some benefit in preventing obesity, by higher levels of Bifidobacteria passed by mother to baby via the birth canal or breast milk.
In this study (1), researchers from Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine set out to find if there was a difference in baby’s gut bacteria associated with obesity later in life. Sure enough, an abundance of Bifidobacteria at 12 months was associated with lowered obesity, and lowered Prevotella was associated with lowered BMI later in life.
The researchers showed that both these bacteria levels were modified positively by a longer duration of breast feeding. The longer a mother breast feeds the less likely a baby is likely to have obesity or a higher BMI later in life.
- MP43 – Breast Milk-dependent Associations Of Infant Gut Microbiota With Childhood BMI Z Score, May 21, 2021; Moira Differding; Johns Hopkins; American Heart Association.