Exploring the link: Impact of a mother's microbiome on infant's health

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Exploring the link: Impact of a mother's microbiome on infant's health

Related tags microbiome synbiotics biotics Probiotics Gut health infant health

A recent NutraIngredients webinar hosted by Chr Hansen, gave insight into the critical role a mother plays in the health of her child before giving birth, exploring opportunities for synergistic biotic supplementation.

Dr. Adam Baker, head of Future Lab, and Dr. Stine Ninel Hansen, global scientific advisor for the global bioscience firm, spoke about their outlook on the future of synbiotic prenatal solutions, and discussed Chr. Hansen’s approach to nurturing the maternal microbiome during pregnancy.

A mother’s microbiome

Baker explained: “The mum’s microbiome and how you look after yourself as a mum, is important because you are transferring that almost entirely into your infant. That is going to be the starting point of your infant's microbiome and it is going to stay with the infant in the months and years to come.

"We are very much focused on this early window where bifidobacteria​ enrichment is key.”

Hansen explained how bifidobacteria ​are a core component of a healthy infant gut microbiome​ and growing evidence suggests that they also have beneficial effects throughout adult life, yet the abundance of bifidobacteria ​in the colon decreases to less than 5% in adults.

One way to maintain a healthy gut is by maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Yet, Hansen noted this can be difficult to achieve during pregnancy.

She stated: “A healthy lifestyle is not always possible when you're pregnant: Many pregnant women suffer from nausea; some can have specific cravings; and they’re swollen and have pelvic pain. This makes it quite hard for them, and thus their microbiome, to stay healthy.”


The audience were informed that when a mother uses common prebiotics like fructooligosaccharides​ (FOS), galactooligosaccharides​ (GOS), and inulin as supplements, they do provide nourishment for beneficial bifidobacteria​, but they also feed various other bacterial species.

Consequently, there are minimal prebiotic remnants available for the relatively smaller population of bifidobacteria​ in the adult gut.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs), on the other hand, are bifidogenic​ meaning they specifically enhance the growth of bifidobacteria​ in either a product or in the human microbiome.

Emerging evidence indicates several significant roles of HMOs​, such as supporting the immune system, gut integrity, and brain development, as well as helping defend against unwanted microorganisms. 

In addition to this, HMOs can have additional health benefits when provided in synergy with probiotics.

A Chr. Hansen solution

As a supplier of bacteria cultures, probiotics, enzymes, and HMOs, Chr. Hansen presented their novel combination of probiotics with specific clinically documented health benefits and HMOs with relevant beneficial properties for immune, cognitive, and gut health. 

Chr. Hansen’s synbiotics combine probiotic strains with HMOs for either a complementary or synergistic effect. 

Baker explained that in some cases, a complementary synbiotic is preferred where the HMO performs in its own right.

In other cases, a synergistic synbiotic is preferred where the HMOs feed a specific probiotic strain to enhance the health benefits of the live microorganism.

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