Breast milk consists of a complex and continually changing blend of proteins, fats and sugars, helps protect babies against bacterial infections. A new study from Vanderbilt University, discovered that the carbohydrates in human milk (also called oligosaccharides) not only possess antibacterial properties of their own, but enhance the effectiveness of the antibacterial proteins also present.
One of the best things about these antibiotics in human milk is that they are non-toxic – something that traditional antibiotics are not. The team decided to analyse the sugars in breast milk, rather than the proteins too see if they also contained antibiotic properties. Group B Strep was chosen for the purpose. It is one of the commonest causes of infections among newborns globally. They found that the sugars from one sample nearly killed an entire strep colony. The rest of the samples were also effective in killing the bacteria, but to a lesser degree.
This is a promising study, as antibiotic resistant bacteria are a growing problem. The CDC estimates it is responsible for 23,000 deaths annually. In fact that was the issue that spurred the team to initiate this study. More and more research is emerging yearly that gives us natural alternative to killing infectious bacteria that don’t involve toxic anti-biotics.
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