Bifidobacterium infantis is a species of probiotic bacteria. In this article you will find the answers to the following questions about B. infantis:
What is Bifidobacterium infantis?
B. infantis is a bacterial species belonging to the Bifidobacteria genus. B. infantis is commonly seen in an infant’s digestive tract, particularly those who are breast fed. Unlike some other Bifidobacteria species, B. infantis does not tolerate oxygen very well, therefore B. infantis takes up its main residence in the colon (Andrade et al., 2020).
B. infantis is a beneficial microbe and can exert many positive effects supporting human health, thus making it of particular interest in the probiotic industry.
What are the benefits of Bifidobacterium infantis?
B. infantis promotes a healthy gut microbiome and gut environment via the following modes of action:
- High mucus binding ability - B. infantis has very strong adherence factors and is known to bind well to the gut epithelial lining, particularly in breast fed infants (Underwood et al., 2015).
- Anti-inflammatory action - B. infantis has the ability to modulate inflammatory responses and supress the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This has been of particular interest in the development of childhood allergic conditions (Ganguli et al., 2013).
- Short chain fatty acid (SCFA) production - like all Bifidobacteria, B. infantis has the ability to produce SCFA’s, the predominant one produced is acetate. Acetate plays an important role for maintaining optimal gut health.
- Anti-microbial action – many B. infantis strains are able to produce biosurfactants, bacteriocins and lactic acid all of which have anti-microbial action, thus supporting the growth of beneficial microbes and maintaining gut homeostasis.
In addition, specific strains of B. infantis have been researched for certain health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bloating. You can find out more about Which probiotics are best for IBS and Probiotics for bloating on the Probiotics Learning Lab. Further research has been conducted to assess the importance of B. infantis colonisation in new-borns and infants’ guts. B. infantis is recognised to be the best microbe at fermenting all types of human milk oligosaccharides (HMO’s) (Sela and Mills, 2014). HMOs are a very unique type of prebiotic only found in breast milk with an extensive list of benefits for infant health. You could read more about HMO’s and the important of the baby microbiome in Baby probiotics on the Probiotics Learning Lab.
Is Bifidobacterium longum the same as Bifidobacterium infantis?
B. infantis is also known as Bifidobacterium longum subsp. infantis as many researchers classify the microbe as a sub species of B. longum due to a high level of genetic similarity shown in genome sequencing data. This means, although B. infantis is very similar to B. longum, it is in fact a distinct microbe with some differing characteristics.
Which probiotic has Bifidobacterium infantis?
Numerous probiotics contain B. infantis, but one of the most researched strains is B. infantis 35624. This strain has been particularly trialled for IBS and has additionally shown anti-inflammatory properties. You can read more about the research and outcomes on its strain page on the Probiotics Database: Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.
Key takeaways for Bifidobacterium infantis:
- B. infantis is a beneficial microbe that resides in the colon and is more commonly found in breast fed infants.
- B. infantis supports good gut health and overall wellbeing. It can play a particularly important role in the development of an infant’s microbial, digestive, and immune health.
- One of the most researched strains is B. infantis 35624, which has shown to be effective for IBS sufferers.
As some properties & benefits of probiotics may be strain-specific, this database provides even more detailed information at strain level. Read more about the strains that we have included from this genus below.
Bifidobacterium infantis strains: Bifidobacterium infantis 35624.
There are many other species in the Bifidobacterium genus - read about these in the Probiotics Database
For more insights and professional updates on probiotics, please visit the Probiotic Professionals pages.
Andrade, J. C. et al. (2020) ‘Commensal Obligate Anaerobic Bacteria and Health: Production, Storage, and Delivery Strategies’, Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, 8. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2020.00550.
Ganguli, K. et al. (2013) ‘Probiotics prevent necrotizing enterocolitis by modulating enterocyte genes that regulate innate immune-mediated inflammation’, American Journal of Physiology-Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology, 304(2). doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00142.2012.
Sela, D. A. and Mills, D. A. (2014) ‘The marriage of nutrigenomics with the microbiome: the case of infant-associated bifidobacteria and milk’, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99(3). doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071795.
Underwood, M. A. et al. (2015) ‘Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis: champion colonizer of the infant gut’, Pediatric Research, 77(1–2). doi: 10.1038/pr.2014.156.
Information on this species was gathered by Joanna Scott-Lutyens BA (hons), DipION, Nutritional Therapist; and Kerry Beeson, BSc (Nut.Med) Nutritional Therapist
Last updated - 3rd March 2022