The data, presented at the 7th International Yakult Symposium, suggests that maternal bifidobacteria are an important component in the development of their offspring's microbiota during early infancy - after scientists at the Yakult Central Institute for Microbial Research, Japan, examined whether specific bacterial strains found in the maternal intestines transmitted to the intestine of their babies.
"We found the exact same Bifidobacterium strains when we isolated strains from the mothers intestines and the neonate intestines," Dr Kenji Oishi, science director at Yakult's Honsha European Research Centre for Microbiology told NutraIngredients.
Oishi, who led the research study, explained that an 'important' past of these findings was that samples were taken from mothers before delivery of their baby. As such, he suggested that the results mean a mothers 'healthy' intestinal microbiota during pregnancy "seems to be a positive contribution towards the development of the newborn's intestinal microbiota."
The Yakult research team explained that it is of 'upmost importance' to establish an optimal microbial community immediately after birth and to "subsequently maintain a balanced intestinal microbiota."
As a result, the team undertook a comprehensive analysis of how the infant microbiota is populated in a group of 111 pregnant women by analysing for similarities in faecal samples from mothers (twice before birth) and infants (on five occasions from day 0 to day 90 of life) using strain level analysis.
"We think that it was necessary to do a strain level analysis because we needed to verify whether the exact same strain could be isolated from the mothers intestine and the neonate intestine," explained Oishi.
"The important thing was that we collected faecal samples from the mothers before delivery and then compared that to the infants," he added.
The Yakult science director explained that more than 2,500 Bifidobacterium strains were isolated from the 82 vaginally and 29 Caesarean delivered pairs.
Of these, five strains were found to be consistently common between mothers and infants: B. adolescentis, B. bifidum, B. catenulatum, B. longum subsp. lungum, B. pseudocatenulatum.
Oishi concluded that the mother's intestinal Bifidobacteria therefore form an important component in the development of their babies microbiota - adding that a 'healthy and balanced' intestinal during pregnancy might be important to positively influencing the beneficial development of intestinal microbiota in infants.