Oral administration of lactobacillus strains found in breast milk may provide an alternative method to antibiotics for effectively treating mastitis, a common infection that occurs in lactating mothers say researchers from Spain. They report their findings in the August 2008 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Mastitis, inflammation of one or more lobules of the mammary gland, occurs in anywhere from three percent to 33 percent of lactating mothers and of those incidences 75 percent to 95 percent are diagnosed within the first 12 weeks postpartum. While Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis are considered to be the main infectious agents associated with mastitis, increased multi-drug resistance to antibiotics are making such infections difficult to treat, therefore prompting researchers to explore alternative treatment options.
In prior studies researchers collected lactobacillus strains from the breast milk of healthy mothers and found the probiotic potential of Lactobacillus gasseri and Lactobacillus salivarious to be comparable to strains currently used in commercial probiotic products. Here the researchers randomly divided 20 women diagnosed with staphylococcal mastitis into two groups, a probiotic group and a control. The probiotic group received the same daily dosage of L. salivarius and L. gasseri for four weeks, both of which were originally isolated from breast milk. Results showed that on day zero staphylococcal counts in both groups were similar. At day 14 women in the probiotic group were displaying no clinical signs of mastitis, but infection in the control group persisted. Finally, on day 30 the staphylococcal count was lower in the probiotic group and L. salivarius and L. gasseri were detected in milk samples from six of the 10 women.
"In conclusion, L. salivarius CECT5713 and L. gasseri CECT5714 appear to be an efficient alternative for the treatment of lactational infectious mastitis during lactation," the researchers write.
Reference: E. Jimenez, L. Fernandez, A. Maldonado, R. Martin, M. Olivares, J. Xaus, J.M. Rodriguez. 2008. Oral administration of Lactobacillus strains isolated from breast milk as an alternative for the treatment of infectious mastitis during lactation. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 74. 15: 4650-4655.