Microorganisms in human milk: Lights and shadows

Elisa Civardi, Francesca Garofoli, Chryssoula Tzialla, Piermichele Paolillo, Lina Bollani, Mauro Stronati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human milk has been traditionally considered germ free, however, recent studies have shown that it represents a continuous supply of commensal and potentially probiotic bacteria to the infant gut. Mammary microbioma may exercise anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and metabolic properties. Moreover human milk may be a source of pathogenic microorganism during maternal infection, if contaminated during expression or in case of vaccination of the mother. The non-sterility of breast milk can, thus, be seen as a protective factor, or rarely, as a risk factor for the newborn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-34
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Issue numberSUPPL.2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Breastfeeding
  • Expressed breast milk
  • Human milk
  • Infectious disease transmission
  • Mammary microbiota
  • Probiotics
  • Vaccination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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