Study: Babies’ Microbiomes Indifferent to Mode of Delivery

Study of 81 six-week-olds who were born by C-section or vaginal delivery didn’t show differences in the structure or function of their microbiota, despite contrary results from other studies on babies. 

By Kerry Grens | January 24, 2017

WIKIMEDIA, ERNEST FStudies of babies’ microbiomes have suggested that the way a baby is born—either vaginally or via caesarian section—impacts bacterial communities, perhaps with long-term consequences. But in a study published today (January 23) in Nature Medicine, researchers at Texas Children’s Hospital report that, after six weeks of age, they could not distinguish between the microbiomes of babies born one way or the other.

“It is incredibly important to answer this question accurately, not only because more than 1 million babies a year are born via cesarean section, but also because any future interventions aimed at correcting or mediating an altered microbiome of cesarean born babies needs to be targeted to the correct window of time,” said coauthor Kjersti Aagaard, in a press release. “We perform cesarean deliveries every day for really good reasons, and we need to be cautious that we do not assign risk to the wrong source, or misattribute risk to a surgery itself rather than the underlying reason that the surgery was undertaken.”

Indeed, some parents have taken to “seeding” their babies with the mothers’ vaginal microbes after a C-section, a practice some health care providers have cautioned against. In a prior literature review, Aasgaard found a mixed bag of results on whether mode of delivery was linked to microbiome differences between babies.

For her latest study, Aagaard and her colleagues sampled 81 pregnant mothers before they delivered, and tracked their babies for six weeks after they were born. They found that, within the first weeks of life, bacterial communities diversified in different sites around the body. Initially, in the mouth, on the skin, and in a few other places, the microbial composition was different between vaginal and C-section babies. But by six weeks, even those differences were no longer detectable.

Aasgaard said the speedy maturation of the microbiome was surprising, given that babies only drink milk and do not explore their environments at six weeks of age. “Infants start to show body niche separation just like an adult, meaning that the oral microbiome is distinct from the skin microbiome, which is distinct from the gut microbiome,” she said in the release. “That is rather remarkable.”

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Avatar of: wctopp


Posts: 110

January 24, 2017

So what might be happening in those first six weeks that could be impacted by a microbiome?  Presumably we know a whole lot about what happens most places in those weeks.  It would be interesting to see if any of those pre-six week processes are impacted.

Avatar of: knorsh


Posts: 1

January 25, 2017

What percentage of these babies were exclusively breastfed, partially breastfed or exclusively formula-fed? It has been shown that breast milk contains a multitude of microorganisms that contribute to the microbiome of the infant. Was there any difference between babies according to what they were eating?

Avatar of: JohnnyMorales


Posts: 31

January 31, 2017

(Why does this site block spell check?)

Is the assumption that even with purposeful efforts to transfer a mother's microbiome to her infant nothing shows up that is measurable until 6 weeks?

I'd think that having the transfer is most important in the weeks immediately following birth.

That 6 week delay is certain to mask any beneficial effect from transfering the microbiome. If nature is any guide, it would have served its purpose, and faded into the norm which happens as a result of a baby spening enough time in the human environment to pick up most of the right bugs and establish their own.

In puppies at least colostrum is only important and useful for puppies in the first 48 hours providing protection from infections and helping the puppy's own microbiome on its feet in the meantime. Its effects last about 6 weeks, afterwhich puppies who didn't get any colostrum and survived are doing as well as those that did.

Really though the research is being far too clinical. If they want to find out the facts, then they need to let it happen the way nature intended which when allowed ensures the baby slides out of the birth canal into a pile of waiting poop the mother deposited during her contractions.

Unfortunately too many people hold religious beliefs (even if they are athiests) about the birthing process and allowing it to happen this way even in the name of science is considered allowing a woman to give birth as if she is just an "animal".

Avatar of: JohnnyMorales


Posts: 31

Replied to a comment from wctopp made on January 24, 2017

January 31, 2017

Yep you spotting the study flaw too.

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