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BACKGROUND: Breast milk (BM) provides complete nutrition for infants for the first six months of life and is essential for the development of the newborn's immature immune and digestive systems. While BM was conventionally believed to be sterile, recent advanced high throughput technologies have unveiled the presence of diverse microbial communities in BM. These insights into the BM microbiota have mainly originated from uncomplicated pregnancies, possibly not reflecting the circumstances of mothers with pregnancy complications like preterm birth (PTB). METHODS: In this article, we investigated the BM microbial communities in mothers with preterm deliveries (before 37 weeks of gestation). We compared these samples with BM samples from healthy term pregnancies across different lactation stages (colostrum, transitional and mature milk) using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. RESULTS: Our analysis revealed that the microbial communities became increasingly diverse and compositionally distinct as the BM matured. Specifically, mature BM samples were significantly enriched in Veillonella and lactobacillus (Kruskal Wallis; p 

Original publication




Journal article


J Transl Med

Publication Date





Breast milk, Breastfeeding, Microbiome, Prematurity, Preterm birth, Infant, Pregnancy, Female, Child, Infant, Newborn, Humans, Milk, Human, Gestational Age, Premature Birth, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Lactation, Microbiota