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Open AccessReview

Human Milk’s Hidden Gift: Implications of the Milk Microbiome for Preterm Infants’ Health

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, AOU Bologna, Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences (DIMEC), University of Bologna. via Massarenti, 11-40138 Bologna, Italy
Unit of Molecular Ecology of Health, Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology (FABIT), University of Bologna. Via Belmeloro, 6–40126 Bologna, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2019, 11(12), 2944;
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 8 November 2019 / Accepted: 9 November 2019 / Published: 4 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Milk, HMO, Lactation and Application in Infant Feeding)
Breastfeeding is considered the gold standard for infants’ nutrition, as mother’s own milk (MOM) provides nutritional and bioactive factors functional to optimal development. Early life microbiome is one of the main contributors to short and long-term infant health status, with the gut microbiota (GM) being the most studied ecosystem. Some human milk (HM) bioactive factors, such as HM prebiotic carbohydrates that select for beneficial bacteria, and the specific human milk microbiota (HMM) are emerging as early mediators in the relationship between the development of GM in early life and clinical outcomes. The beneficial role of HM becomes even more crucial for preterm infants, who are exposed to significant risks of severe infection in early life as well as to adverse short and long-term outcomes. When MOM is unavailable or insufficient, donor human milk (DHM) constitutes the optimal nutritional choice. However, little is known about the specific effect of DHM on preterm GM and its potential functional implication on HMM. The purpose of this narrative review is to summarize recent findings on HMM origin and composition and discuss the role of HMM on infant health and development, with a specific focus on preterm infants. View Full-Text
Keywords: human milk microbiota; preterm infants; breastfeeding; donor human milk human milk microbiota; preterm infants; breastfeeding; donor human milk
MDPI and ACS Style

Beghetti, I.; Biagi, E.; Martini, S.; Brigidi, P.; Corvaglia, L.; Aceti, A. Human Milk’s Hidden Gift: Implications of the Milk Microbiome for Preterm Infants’ Health. Nutrients 2019, 11, 2944.

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