Epidemiological evidence indicates that breastfeeding provides protection against development of overweight/obesity. Nonetheless, a small subgroup of infants undergo excessive weight gain during exclusive breastfeeding, a phenomenon that remains unexplained. Breast milk contains both gut-seeding microbes and substrates for microbial growth in the gut of infants, and a large body of evidence suggests a role for gut microbes in host metabolism. Based on the recently established SKOT III cohort, we investigated the role of the infant gut microbiota in excessive infant weight gain during breastfeeding, including 30 exclusively breastfed infants, 13 of which exhibited excessive weight gain and 17 controls which exhibited normal weight gain during infancy. Infants undergoing excessive weight gain during breastfeeding had a reduced abundance of gut Enterococcus as compared with that observed in the controls. Within the complete cohort, Enterococcus abundance correlated inversely with age/gender-adjusted body-weight, body-mass index and waist circumference, body fat and levels of plasma leptin. The reduced abundance of Enterococcus in infants with excessive weight gain was coupled to a lower content of Enterococcus in breast milk samples of their mothers than seen for mothers in the control group. Together, this suggests that lack of breast milk-derived gut-seeding Enterococci may contribute to excessive weight gain in breastfed infants.
- excessive weight gain
- gut microbiota