SUMMARY: New study shows inoculating 10% volume of mother's own milk added to pasteurised donor milk can help restore the personalised milk microbiome. This could be especially helpful for preterm babies needing donor milk.
About personalised milk microbiome
Human milk contains many bioactive compounds and beneficial bacteria. The beneficial bacteria in breast milk are personalised to each mother/baby dyad.
The beneficial bacteria present in a mother's breast milk promote the
establishment of a healthy microbiome in the
About donor milk
However, if a mother's own breast milk is not available, donor human milk collected from breastfeeding donor mothers can be the second-best option.
Pasteurised donor human milk (PDHM) is especially important for preterm babies, if a mother is unable to either breastfeed or express her milk.
To ensure the safety of the milk, donor milk from Human Milk Banks (HMBs) is pasteurised to inactivate any viral or bacterial agents present in the milk coming from the donor. In effect, pasteurisation affects the microbiological quality of donor milk.
But if the pasteurisation process inactivates the bacteria in the donor milk, is there a way to restore the mother's own personalised milk microbiome given to her own baby?
Short answer: New research suggests there could be a way!
Long answer: A new study by by Mallardi, D et al., published in J Transl Med (Oct 9, 2021) suggests inoculating and incubating pasteurised donor milk with 10% volume mother's milk can help restore the mother's personalised milk microbiome.
In the in-vitro study, pasteurised donor human milk was inoculated with 10% volume using 10 preterm milk samples.
The 10 samples were then incubated at 37 °C for 0 hours, 2 hours (T1), 4 hours (T2)
The 10 samples were then analysed.
To quote from the study abstract: "After inoculation, metataxonomic analysis in IM samples showed that
Proteobacteria remained the predominant phylum while Firmicutes moved
from 3% at T1 to 9.4% at T2. Peptidomic profile of IM resembled that of
PDHM, incubated for the same time, in terms of number and type of
What does that mean?
The research shows that inoculating pasteurised donor human milk with a bit of mother's own milk does help restore bacterial growth. It also helps to personalise the donor milk so that it looks more similar to mother's own milk.
As the bacterial components of a mother's own milk are personalised to her own infant, this could be a way to help restore the personalised milk microbiome for a baby needing donor milk.
Mallardi D, Tabasso C, Piemontese P, Morandi S, Silvetti T, Biscarini F,
Cremonesi P, Castiglioni B, Pica V, Stuknyte M, De Noni I, Amato O,
Liotto N, Mosca F, Roggero P. Inoculation of mother's own milk could
personalize pasteurized donor human milk used for feeding preterm
infants. J Transl Med. 2021 Oct 9;19(1):420. doi:
10.1186/s12967-021-03096-7. PMID: 34627277; PMCID: PMC8502300.
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