Objectives: There are many differences in the fecal infant microbiota associated with various feeding methods. The aim of this study was to examine the major differences in the fecal microbiota of breast-fed (BF) and formula-fed (FF) infants and to describe the principal bacterial components that would explain the variability in the predominant bacterial families and genus clusters.
Methods: Fecal samples from 58 infants, 31 of whom were exclusively BF and 27 of whom were exclusively FF with a standard formula in agreement with the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition recommendations, were analyzed by fluorescent in situ hybridization combined with flow cytometry. Principal component analysis was used to maximize the information gained for the predominant bacterial families and genus clusters using a minimal number of bacterial groups.
Results: The predominant detected group was Bifidobacterium, followed by Enterobacteriaceae and Bacteroides in both BF and FF infants. The Lactobacillus group was the only independent variable associated with FF infants. We also found that 3 principal components were sufficient to describe the association between the bacterial group, genus, and species studied in BF and FF infants; however, these components differed between BF and FF infants. For the former, the 3 factors found were Bifidobacterium/Enterobacteriaceae, Lactobacillus/Bacteroides, and Clostridium coccoides/Atopobium; for the latter, Bifidobacterium/Enterobacteriaceae, Bacteroides and C coccoides were observed.
Conclusions: There is a clear clustering of components of infant microbiota based on the feeding method.