Bifidobacterium infantis

Bifidobacterium infantis (B. infantis) is particularly noteworthy when it comes to the gut health of babies. Unlike many other Bifidobacterium species, B. infantis is specifically adapted to utilize the unique oligosaccharides in breast milk. Unlike many other bacteria that degrade HMOs externally, B. infantis has the ability to metabolize HMOs internally. This means it can take HMOs directly into its cell and break them down there.

This internal degradation allows B. infantis, to efficiently use the valuable components of HMOs, giving it a competitive advantage over other bacteria in the infant's gut. After B. infantis has metabolized the HMOs, it produces metabolites, particularly short-chain fatty acids such as acetate and lactate. These metabolites can be used by other bacteria in the gut as an energy source and contribute to overall gut health and acidification of the gut, which in turn creates an environment that is less favorable for pathogenic bacteria. Therefore, the presence and activity of B. infantis not only have direct benefits for the infant but also indirect benefits through promoting a healthy gut ecosystem.

It is this special adaptation to the nutrition of babies that distinguishes B. infantis from other Bifidobacterium species.