Effect of human milk and its components on streptococcus mutans biofilm formation

L. M. Allison, L. A. Walker, B. J. Sanders, Z. Yang, G. Eckert, R. L. Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Objective: This study investigated the effects of human breast milk and its components on the nutritional aspect of the caries process due to Streptococcus mutans UA159 biofilm formation. Study design: Human breast milk was collected from 11 mothers during 3-9 months postpartum. To test for the effect on biofilm formation, a 16-hour culture of S. mutans was treated with dilutions of human breast milk and several major components of human breast milk, lactose, lactoferrin, IgA, and bovine casein in sterile 96-well flat bottom microtiter plates for 24 hours. The biofilms were fixed, washed, stained with crystal violet, and extracted. Absorbance was measured to evaluate biofilm growth mass. Results: Dilutions 1:10-1:2, 560 of the human breast milk samples increased biofilm formation by 1.5-3.8 fold compared to the control. Lactoferrin decreased biofilm formation significantly in all dilutions (average milk concentration of 3 mg/ml). Lactose had no effect at average breast milk concentrations (60 mg/ml) except at its lowest concentration (15 mg/ml) where it was increased. IgA significantly decreased biofilm formation at its highest concentration of 2, 400 μg/ml (average milk concentration 600 μg/ml). Casein caused significantly increased biofilm formation at all concentrations tested above the average milk content (2.3 mg/ml). Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate an increase in S. mutans biofilm formation by human breast milk 3-9 months post partum. Among its major components, only casein significantly increased biofilm formation among the concentrations analyzed. Lactose had no effect except at 15 mg/ml. Lactoferrin and IgA significantly decreased S. mutans biofilm formation at their highest concentrations. This information expands the current knowledge regarding the nutritional influence of breastfeeding and validates the necessity to begin an oral hygiene regimen once the first tooth erupts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Breast milk
  • Breastfeeding
  • Casein
  • Early childhood caries (ECC)
  • Human milk
  • Lactoferrin
  • Lactose
  • S. mutans
  • Secretory IgA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Dentistry(all)

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