C-section birth strongly affects microbiota development of newborn babies

A new study published in BMJ Gut confirms, in line with previous studies, that C-section birth can lead to a disturbed development of a baby’s gut microbiota. Disturbed colonization of a baby’s gut can negatively impact the development of a baby’s immune system.

Our microbiome is a unique community of around 100 trillion bacteria impacting our health and well-being, digestion and our immune system. Birth is a key moment in the development of a baby’s microbiome because it’s when the baby is exposed to its mom’s microorganisms in the birth canal and during breastfeeding. 

It is increasingly becoming better understood that C-section born babies are more likely to have a compromised gut microbiota because they miss out on the good bacteria passed on through the birth canal. Disturbed colonization of the baby’s gut can negatively impact the development of a baby’s immune system, associated with health challenges later in life.

"This new study conducted in the Netherlands shows babies born via C-section have a much less diverse and vibrant community of good bacteria in their gut compared to vaginally born babies."

Guus Roesseler, PhD and head of early life microbiome research at Danone Nutricia Research

The study also examined the impact of early administration of antibiotics to the mom during C-section delivery to investigate whether that could lead to further disbalance of a baby’s microbiome with fewer of the good bacteria colonizing the gut. 

Antibiotics kill microbes and are great for fighting infection complications in the mom, however, next to pathogenic microbes they can also kill the good microbes further reducing the good bacteria passed on from mom to baby. The study showed early administration of antibiotics to the mom did not further worsen the already compromised microbiome development in C-section born babies. 

Hence, this randomized controlled trial indicates that C-section delivery itself, and not exposure to antibiotics, seems to negatively affect microbiota development, and consequently a baby’s health1.

  1.  Dierikx T, et al. Gut 2021;0:1–9.

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