Do Probiotics Pass Through Breast Milk?

Spread the Probiotic love

Once a newborn baby arrives into your life, it changes the way you experience the world. This is a fact that is known by millions of mothers around the world. There are actually benefits to Probioitcs during Pregnancy too.

Once you give birth, nothing is ever the same again, and a mother will begin to second guess and scrutinise everything. One of the most common cases where this happens is regarding medication for a mothers new-born baby.

Because most new mothers around the world choose to breastfeed, it is natural they will evaluate the impact that any medication they take can potentially have on their precious little bundle of joy. And If you are currently suffering from any one of the many gastrointestinal ailments that are common, or perhaps you are taking a course of antibiotics, it is likely that someone may recommend that you take a supplement of probiotics for mothers.

But how safe is it to practice breast-feeding? Is supplementation with probiotics really compatible while lactatimg?

Read on, because we’ll tell you all you need to know….

Why would Probioitcs be problematic for Breastfeeding?

According to the World Health Organization, a Probiotic is any food that contains live microorganisms that, when supplied in adequate quantities, confers a beneficial effect on the health of the consumer. In other words, probiotics are foods or supplements that contain “good” bacteria which aid the gastrointestinal function.

Probiotics HAVE to contain live organisms, and they HAVE to contain a sufficient dose to confer their beneficial effects. As such, not all products labeled as probiotics on the market will be beneficial because they either do not contain the minimum number of organisms or they are not live.

While most people can take probiotics without ever experiencing any noticeable side effects, some people will regularly experience stomach aches, diarrhea, bloating, gas, and even mental confusion.

Is there a Connection between a Baby’s Intestinal Microbiota and Breast Milk?

Healthy child growth revolves around various factors. Not the least of which is the development of a healthy intestinal microbiota.

In this regard, the most critical and formative period of a child’s life is his or her first three years of life, which are also coincidentally the years of lactation.

Breast milk is a complex fluid whose composition may vary greatly throughout the breastfeeding period. The volume of breast milk produced will depend on various factors such as the mother state of health, and the demand exerted by the infant.

The volume of secreted milk depends on individual factors and the demand of the infant. In addition, breast milk is greatly influenced by the mother’s health status and diet. For example, mothers suffering from malnutrition produce breast milk that is lacking in proteins and thus confers significantly fewer benefits to the baby. Find out about the Best Probiotics for Babies.

As previously stated, many of the constituent components of breast milk play a crucial role in the development of the baby’s microbiota. Case in point, the sugars, mainly lactose, and some oligosaccharides that are found in breast milk promote the growth of specific bacteria in the baby’s intestinal tract. Bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which play a key role in the intestinal health of the baby.

Given the relationship between breast milk consumption and gut microbiota, what happens when the mother consumes additional probiotic supplements.

The Probiotic qualities of Human Milk

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Breast Milk as a Mechanism of Infection?

One noteworthy characteristic of breast milk is that virtually all medicines pass into it. How much passes through depends on a variety of factors such as the ease with which each particular drug binds to various proteins, the drug’s acidity levels, and even its solubility.

This is not to say that all medicines will have a negative impact on the baby. In fact, some medications cause no effect on the baby whatsoever and may be used freely while lactating and breastfeeding. However, a great number of medications do pose a health risk to the baby, and so care should be taken to research and consult with a medical professional before breastfeeding while on medication.

Other, non-medicinal substances such as alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine also pass through into breast milk and cause various effects on the baby, some of which are potentially dangerous.

It is also important to note that during breastfeeding, the baby may also be infected by pathogens transmitted through breast milk. The mothers breast itself may be infected; Various types of microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites have been identified in breast milk, although only in some cases, such as with HIV, are they considered the cause of a clinically significant pathology.

Relationship between Probiotics and Breast Milk

Probiotic supplementation will affect the composition of breast milk. As mentioned previously, virtually everything you consume works its way into your breastmilk. However, breast milk is innately packed with probiotics, and these bacteria have been shown to confer plenty of benefits to the child.

In fact, some baby formula manufacturers are now formulating their recipes to include these type of probiotic agents.

For example, some studies have shown that maternal consumption of probiotic supplements during breastfeeding decreases the likelihood that high-risk children will suffer from eczema later in life.

Extensive studies have long suggested that probiotic content in breast milk confers significant immunomodulatory protection for the child. Meaning children who grow with regular exposure to probiotic strains of bacteria often enjoy stronger immune systems and significantly less violent allergic responses.

The important thing to keep in mind is that with probiotics, just as with everything else we put into our bodies, quality counts. So make sure that when you are breastfeeding your newborn or infant, and you decide to take probiotic supplementation, you take the time to do ample and proper research into the brand.

Choose probiotics that have at least 1 billion colony forming units or CFUs. Choose brands that have undergone independent third-party lab testing.

Remember that probiotics are generally considered safe for consumption, but there is always a small risk of experiencing adverse side effects. Some people experience mild bloating, gas, and alterations to their bowel movements.

If you are breastfeeding and want to take probiotic supplementation, do so with a clear conscience. You will not be harming your baby at all.


  • Walker, A. (2010). Breast milk as the gold standard for protective nutrients. The Journal of pediatrics, 156(2), S3-S7.
  • Rautava, S., Kalliomäki, M., & Isolauri, E. (2002). Probiotics during pregnancy and breast-feeding might confer immunomodulatory protection against atopic disease in the infant. Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 109(1), 119-121.
  • Gueimonde, M., Laitinen, K., Salminen, S., & Isolauri, E. (2007). Breast milk: a source of bifidobacteria for infant gut development and maturation?. Neonatology, 92(1), 64-66.
  • Lara-Villoslada, F., Olivares, M., Sierra, S., Rodríguez, J. M., Boza, J., & Xaus, J. (2007). Beneficial effects of probiotic bacteria isolated from breast milk. British Journal of Nutrition, 98(S1), S96-S100.
  • Fuller, R. (1991). Probiotics in human medicine. Gut, 32(4), 439.

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