The Human Milk Microbiome – What’s Normal, and Possible Factors Mediating Variability

Publish Date: 19 April 2017
Author(s): Michelle (Shelley) K. McGuire, PhD


Human milk composition is not only critical to understanding optimal nutrition during infancy, but also to understanding optimal nutrition throughout the lifespan. Although milk produced by healthy moms was once thought to be sterile, emerging research shows that it contains a diverse and live microbial community. Dr McGuire explains that understanding the variability in microbe sources (e.g., the mouth of the suckling infant) and the health implications of these microbes to both mothers and infants are a focus of current investigation.

Dr McGuire’s latest research shows that maternal intake of many dietary components is associated with variation in the human milk microbiome worldwide. Differences are likely due to a complex interplay among maternal genetic variation, cultural and behavioral differences, environmental conditions, and pathogen risk.

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Author Bios

A headshot of Michelle McGuire

Michelle (Shelley) K. McGuire, PhD

Washington State University; Pullman, Washington, USA

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