Caesarean Babies have Less Gut Bacteria but More Hospital Bacteria

Scientists discovered that vaginally born babies got most of their mom’s gut bacteria, while C-section babies pick up more bugs linked to hospital environments. These early encounters with microbes may act as a “thermostat” for the immune system, with a higher risk of asthma.
Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, UCL, the University of Birmingham and their collaborators say the method of delivery can influence the bacteria in infants’ guts but stress the exact role of the baby’s gut bacteria is unclear and till it is unknown if these differences at birth will have any effect on later health.
Dr. Nigel Field, clinical associate professor at UCL, said, “There is research showing that babies born by cesarean section have a slightly higher risk of immune-related conditions. They have a slightly higher risk of asthma, or inflammatory bowel disease and other allergic conditions.”
Dr. Trevor Lawley, a senior author on the paper from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, said: “This is the largest genomic investigation of newborn babies’ microbiomes to date.”
Principal Investigator of the Baby Biome Study, Professor Peter Brocklehurst, of the University of Birmingham, said: “The first weeks of life are a critical window of development of the baby’s immune system, but we know very little about it.”
However, these findings should not deter women from having a cesarean birth. “In many cases, a cesarean is a life-saving procedure and can be the right choice for a woman and her baby,” said Alison Wright, a consultant obstetrician and vice-president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
“The exact role of the microbiome in the newborn and what factors can change it are still uncertain, so we don’t think this study should deter women from having a caesarean.”