Mastromarino P., Capobianco D. Miccheli A., Praticò G., Campagna G., Laforgia N., Capursi T.,  Baldassarre E.


Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Section of Microbiology, Sapienza University, Piazzale Aldo Moro 5, I-00185 Rome, Italy.


Probiotic supplementation to a mother during the perinatal period can have a positive impact on the breast milk composition. The aim of our study was to evaluate the effect of oral supplementation with the probiotic VSL#3, during late pregnancy and lactation, on breast milk levels of beneficial bacteria and some functional components (oligosaccharides and lactoferrin) potentially able to have a positive influence on the microbiota. Breast milk microbiota was analyzed by conventional and quantitative real-time PCR. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, 66 women took daily either the probiotic (n=33) or a placebo (n=33). Intergroup analysis demonstrated that the amounts of both lactobacilli and bifidobacteria were significantly higher in the colostrum and mature milk of the mothers taking VSL#3 in comparison to those taking placebo. The analysis of bacterial strains and species present in breast milk of VSL#3 supplemented mothers indicated that the administered probiotic microorganisms did not pass from maternal gut to mammary gland. In women with vaginal delivery, significantly higher amounts of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria were detected in colostrum and mature milk of probiotic treated group in comparison to placebo group, whereas no significant difference was observed between groups in women who had caesarean section, neither in colostrum nor in mature milk. Milk levels of oligosaccharides and lactoferrin were similar in placebo and probiotic supplemented groups at all timepoints and regardless of the mode of delivery. Our results indicate a probiotic-dependent modulation of breast milk microbiota in vaginally delivering women, possibly exerted through a systemic effect.

Pharmacol Res. May-Jun 2015;95-96:63-70. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2015.03.013.