Human Milk Bacterial and Glycosylation Patterns Differ by Delivery Mode

Reprod Sci. 2016 Jul;23(7):902-7. doi: 10.1177/1933719115623645. Epub 2015 Dec 27.


Mammals have evolved to nourish their offspring exclusively with maternal milk for around half of the lactation period, a crucial developmental window. In view of oral-breast contact during lactation and the differences in oral microbiota between cesarean section (C-section) and vaginally delivered infants, we expected differences in milk composition by delivery mode. We performed a cross-sectional study of banked human milk and found changes related to time since delivery in bacterial abundance and glycosylation patterns only in milk from women who delivered vaginally. The results warrant further research into the effects of delivery mode on milk microbes, milk glycosylation, and postpartum infant development.

Keywords: C-section; breast milk; human microbiome; milk glycosylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Microbiota
  • Milk, Human / metabolism*
  • Milk, Human / microbiology*