Partial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via microbial transfer from mother

Since the end of the twentieth century the number of birth by caesarean section (CS) has increased. In Poland in 2014, 42,8 % of deliveries was CS. On the one hand the number of maternal and newborn deaths decreases, but on the other hand caesarean section should be performed only if it is medically necessary. Alarming are reports that cesarean delivery may increase the risk of : autoimmune diseases, childhood allergies and asthma. The scientists from Italy carried out a study which showed that the intestinal flora of caesarean and vaginally delivered infants appears to be very different.

Vaginally born infants have higher numbers of Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus and Bacteroides compared with CS newborns. The first colonisation of the intestine is one of the strongest stimuli to the maturation and differentiation of the immune system. Microbes stimulate the immune system toward a TH1 nonallergic response and cause a decreased synthesis IgE. Successful colonization of the intestines is necessary for the development of a normal immune response system.

The scientists from Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center and other of the American research centres conducted the small pilot study in which infants delivered by CS were exposed to maternal vaginal fluids at birth. Seven of the babies studied were born vaginally and eleven were CS-delivered.

Four mothers who volunteered for the procedure incubated a sterile gauze in their vaginas for one hour before the caesarean operation. They swabbed with the gauze starting with the mouth, then the face and the rest of the body. Over the month after delivery, researchers collected a total of 1,519 anal, oral, and skin samples that they then used to describe the infants’ microbiome composition. Microbiota of CS babies that were exposed to maternal vaginal fluids was more similar to that of vaginally born infants than to unexposed CS infants . Bacterial flora of unexposed CS newborns was impoverished on bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bacteroides. Results of this experiment show that vaginal microbes can be partially restored at birth in CS–delivered babies Thanks to this their immune system will be able to develop properly in the future, which could theoretically lead to reduced incidence of autoimmune diseases.

Written by: Marta Misztal

1.Partial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via vaginal microbial transfer,Maria G Dominguez-Bello,Kassandra M De Jesus-Laboy, Nan Shen,Laura M Cox, Amnon Amir,Antonio Gonzalez,Nicholas A Bokulich,Se Jin Song,Marina Hoashi,Juana I Rivera-Vinas,Keimari Mendez,Rob Knight & Jose C Clemente
2. Dominguez-Bello, M.G. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107, 11971–11975 (2010).

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