Food giant Nestlé, maker and promoter of baby formula, will soon be marketing a probiotic supplement for breastfeeding mothers

A license agreement between Nestlé and Spanish biotech firm Biosearch SA will see the food giant using a breast milk probiotic strain in one of its supplements, a Nutra Ingredients article reported.  According to the report, Biosearch SA recently licensed Nestlé group subsidiary Nestec SA to take hold of the global marketing of Biosearch Life’s Lactobacillus fermentum LC40 strain (L. fermentum LC40) in a food supplement that was meant to maintain healthy lactation in breastfeeding women.

The license agreement allows Nestec to distribute the supplement in up to 41 countries, the report noted. Data from the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) also revealed that both companies projected revenues of up to 30 million euros over the next five years because of this agreement.

The Spanish biotech, which specializes in healthy ingredients, noted that the strain was chosen from hundreds of other strains present in breast milk. The biotech firm added that several clinical studies demonstrated the strain’s efficacy in relieving mastitis, an inflammatory condition characterized by swelling of the breasts. According to experts, mastitis is a leading cause of early breastfeeding cessation among mothers. (Related: Breastfeeding helps your baby develop its own immune system by replicating yours.)

A press release issued by the Spanish biotech revealed that mastitis was usually addressed through antibiotic treatment. However, researchers cautioned that drug treatment normally causes mothers to stop breastfeeding altogether. The biotech firm touted that the L. fermentum LC40 strain not only alleviates inflammation and painful symptoms linked to mastitis, but may also help mothers to continue breastfeeding.

Potential benefits in mastitis patients

The recent license agreement between the two companies may benefit the health of mothers suffering from mastitis. A policy guideline and procedure manual released by The Royal Women’s Hospital in Australia explained that the painful condition could be triggered by bacterial infection. According to the data sheet, Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) was the most common pathogen associated with the disease. Likewise, other pathogens involved in mastitis onset include beta-haemolytic Streptococcus, Escherichia coli, and Community-acquired methicillin-resistant S. aureus.

The data sheet also revealed that the reported incidence of mastitis range between 10 percent and 20 percent during the first six months postpartum. Moreover, the experts cautioned that while most mastitis cases occur in the first eight weeks postpartum, the condition may set in any time during breastfeeding. About three percent of women with mastitis were slated to develop a breast abscess, the data sheet added.

The guidelines listed a number of risk factors that may increase the risk of suffering from mastitis, which include:

  • Incomplete breast drainage
  • Restrictive clothing or external pressure on the breast
  • Trauma to breasts or nipples
  • Engorgement and/or chronic oversupply of milk
  • Untreated blocked ducts or white spot on the nipple
  • Rapid or abrupt weaning
  • Stress, fatigue, overall poor health and nutrition
  • Previous history of mastitis

Furthermore, the data sheet enumerated a wide array of drug interventions that may relieve the condition, which included different types of analgesia and antibiotics.

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