Bifidobacteria infantis + breastfeeding = key to immunity, disease prev.

In this opinion piece by Kristin Lawless, she discusses the new findings that perhaps pertain to ME and other "new" diseases. I seem to remember a statistic from 20-30 years ago about the high percentage of CFS/ME patients who had not been breast fed. That is true for me and my wife. Of course, this would not be the only factor, but it would deprive us of key immune defense against disease that could enable those genetically predisposed to have a greater risk.

Here's an excerpt:

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have found that a strain of bacteria called B. infantis that is thought to have been the dominant bacterium in the infant gut for all of human history is disappearing from the Western world. According to their research, this was probably caused by the rise in cesarean births, the overuse of antibiotics and the use of infant formula in place of breast milk.

Indeed, nine out of 10 American babies don’t harbor this bacterium in their gut, while researchers suspect that the majority of infants in less industrialized countries do.

Bruce German, a professor of food science and technology and one of the U.C. Davis researchers, says, “The central benefits of having a microbiota dominated by B. infantis is that it crowds all the other guys out” — especially pathogenic bacteria, which can cause both acute illnesses and chronic inflammation that leads to disease.

Studies suggest that by the time babies without B. infantis are children, they are more likely to have allergies and Type 1 diabetes and more likely to be overweight. This change to the infant gut may be at the root of the rising prevalence of diseases and ailments, from allergies to certain cancers.

Dr. German and his colleagues learned about the missing bacterium by studying breast milk. They found that the milk contains an abundance of oligosaccharides, carbohydrates that babies are incapable of digesting. Why would they be there if babies can’t digest them?

They realized that these carbohydrates weren’t feeding the baby — they were feeding B. infantis.

Here's the link:

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Senior Member
I was allergic to the cow-based formula so mom decided to ween me at about 6 months onto solid food. I've had GI problems my whole life, go figure.

I do think formula and childcare have come a long way since the 70's though :p