Early probiotic supplementation with B. infantis in breastfed infants leads to persistent colonization at 1 year

Claire E. O’Brien, Anna K. Meier, Karina Cernioglo, Ryan D. Mitchell, Giorgio Casaburi, Steven A. Frese, Bethany M. Henrick, Mark A. Underwood, Jennifer T. Smilowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Recent studies have reported a dysfunctional gut microbiome in breastfed infants. Probiotics have been used in an attempt to restore the gut microbiome; however, colonization has been transient, inconsistent among individuals, or has not positively impacted the host’s gut. Methods: This is a 2-year follow-up study to a randomized controlled trial wherein 7-day-old infants received 1.8 × 1010 colony-forming unit Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis (B. infantis) EVC001 (EVC) daily for 21 days or breast milk alone (unsupplemented (UNS)). In the follow-up study, mothers (n = 48) collected infant stool at 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 months postnatal and completed the health-diet questionnaires. Results: Fecal B. infantis was 2.5–3.5 log units higher at 6–12 months in the EVC group compared with the UNS group (P < 0.01) and this relationship strengthened with the exclusion of infants who consumed infant formula and antibiotics. Infants in the EVC group had significantly higher Bifidobacteriaceae and lower Bacteroidaceae and Lachnospiraceae (P < 0.05). There were no differences in any health conditions between the two groups. Conclusions: Probiotic supplementation with B. infantis within the first month postnatal, in combination with breast milk, resulted in stable colonization that persisted until at least 1 year postnatal. Impact: A dysfunctional gut microbiome in breastfed infants is common in resource-rich nations and associated with an increased risk of immune diseases.Probiotics only transiently exist in the gut without persistent colonization or altering the gut microbiome.This is the first study to show that early probiotic supplementation with B. infantis with breast milk results in stable colonization of B. infantis and improvements to the gut microbiome 1 year postnatal.This study addresses a key gap in the literature whereby probiotics can restore the gut microbiome if biologically selected microorganisms are matched with their specific food in an open ecological niche.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric research
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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