A study published in the Microbiome Journal reports that the fucosyltransferase 2 gene (or “sectretor” gene) is inactive but present in some mothers. This gene is said to produce a breast milk sugar that encourages the growth of Bifidobacterium in the baby’s gut. Bifidobacterium is good bacteria known as a probiotic that increases gut health and overall immunity, which is extremely important in the life of an infant. A healthy gut enhances the immune response to vaccines, protects against disease and aids in the development of the baby’s immature immune system.
The UC Davis Foods for Health Institute Lactation Study collected milk samples from 44 mothers and obtained fecal samples from their babies at four different times. Of the 44 mothers, 32 of them carried the secretor gene. The results of their research showed that after 90 days, of infants fed from a mother with the gene 80% had high levels of bifidobacteria, while infants fed from a mother without the gene were at 50%
This study does not aim to show that mothers who do not posses this gene have inferior breast milk or that their baby is not going to be as healthy. What it shows is the possibilities of prevention of tragic intestinal diseases like necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) that can lead to death in infant with immature immune systems. These findings prove that improving the health of a baby’s gut can greatly impact the child’s overall wellness in those first crucial months.
The discovery of this gene gives scientists hope that there is more innovation ahead. For now, taking probiotics is an easy way to boost the health of your baby’s gut, specifically probiotics containing bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. If your child is experiencing intestinal issues, probiotics could be a great long-term solution for strengthening the healthy bacteria in your baby’s gut. A healthy life starts with a healthy gut!
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