According to a new study, the method of delivery can influence the microbiome in infants’ guts, but differences were found to disappear overtimes. Scientists from the United Kingdom analyzed the DNA of gut microbiota from 596 newborns in British hospitals and found that babies delivered via caesarean section (C-Section) had different gut microbes than those who were born vaginally. This study titled “Baby Biome” published in Nature, revealed that the way we were born plays an important role in determining which species of microorganisms colonize our guts.
“We think that can be a really critical moment in life because babies are sterile when they’re in the womb, and the moment they are born is a moment when the immune system has a huge of number of bacteria that it’s presented with … that sets the immune system for future life,” said Nigel Field, co-author of the research and a molecular biologist at UCL.
“The babies born vaginally seem to have acquired their bacteria from their mother, and the acquired bacteria are found in their mother’s gut,” he says. “The baby born by C-section that transmission pattern is get disrupted. The more common bacteria that are found in babies born by C-sections are bacteria associated with the hospital environment and settings.” Thus, babies born through C-section had more harmful microbes as well as antimicrobial resistance pathogens from the hospital which could expose them to future infections. These strains include Enterococcus, Enterobacter and Klebsiella species.
However, the researchers found that the gut microbiomes of babies born via C-section became similar to those born vaginally. “We also found that these differences largely even out over time,” Field says. “By the time the babies were weaned around 6 to 9 months, these differences have largely disappeared. “Breastfeeding and intimate skin-to-skin contacts help restore the babies gut microbiota within just six weeks,” says Steven Townsend, an assistant professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt University. “Although we do see differences early in life, we also see that everyone eventually arrives at the same place with the same quality of health,” he says.
Journal: Shao et al. Stunted microbiota and opportunistic pathogen colonization in caesarean-section birth. 2019. Nature.