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Is it true that if you eat beans it could cause flatulence on babies (when breastfeeding them)?

I can't find any research or scientific facts about that topic. I thought the body of the mother would filter "bad" ingedients.

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When the mother eat beans, the fiber (oligosaccharides) from them is not digested in the small intestine, so it travels to the large intestine, where normal intestinal bacteria break it down to some absorbable nutrients (like short-chain fatty acids) and gas that is largerly expelled (fao.org). Some gas can be absorbed into the blood and then removed by the lungs (PubMed).

This means that neither the fiber nor the resulting gas ends up in the mothers breast milk, so it cannot give gas to the baby.

Breast milk contains human milk oligosaccharides (HMO). HMO is undigestible, but bacteria in the infant's intestine can break it down and produce gas. However, the amount of HMO in the breast milk is not likely related to the amount of beans or other high-fiber foods the mother consumes, but is genetically determined (PubMed).

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Is it true that if you eat beans it could cause flatulence on babies (when breastfeeding them)?

Yes and no. It primarily comes down to if the mother has the necessary bacteria in the large intestine to break down the oligosaccharides in beans.

I thought the body of the mother would filter "bad" ingedients.

Flatulence from consuming beans is a result of bacteria in the large intestine breaking down oligosaccharides, those of which don't get broken down in the "initial" stages of digestion. There's nothing inherently "bad" about oligosaccharides.

Regardless, oligosaccharides are naturally found within human breast milk whether the mother consumes beans or not. In fact, they're the third most abundant solid in human break milk (behind fat and lactose).

Ultimately, if the mother does not have the necessary bacteria to break down the oligosaccharides but the infant does, then yes, it's theoretically possible that flatulence exhibited by an infant could be a direct result of the mother consuming beans.

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  • $\begingroup$ So that mean to avoid beans as a mother would reduce the risk for the infant for flatulence? And second, how can one easily determine if the bacteria exist in the large intestine? And third, if the bacteria exists, can a mother eat beans without having an effect on the infant? Your answer is awesome anyway ;) $\endgroup$ – Peter Nov 11 '18 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ I don't agree with these conclusions. The amount of oligosaccharides (namely human milk oligosaccharides or HMO) in the mother's breast milk is NOT related to the amount of oligosaccharides in the beans (or other foods) the mother consumes or to the extent to which these oligosaccharides are broken down by her intestinal bacteria. Mother eating beans or not does not influence the gas in the infant. $\endgroup$ – Jan Nov 14 '18 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Peter, every health human (except newborns) has intestinal bacteria that break down oligosaccharides. They are part of the normal or beneficial intestinal flora. $\endgroup$ – Jan Nov 14 '18 at 12:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Jan Matter of opinion that you disagree. If you have some literature that supports your beliefs, then please provide. Theoretically, it is possible. $\endgroup$ – Charles Nov 14 '18 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Charles, I have added 2 links into my answer. All 3 sources together explain that fiber is not absorbed, but decomposed (as you also stated correctly). The end result is that fiber does not go into the mothers blood and milk. If you assume that some mothers do not have enough bacteria to decompose fiber, the fiber will be then excreted with the stool and will not be absorbed and will not reach the baby. It is the last paragraph in your answer that is problematic and is not based on any evidence. $\endgroup$ – Jan Nov 15 '18 at 8:23

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