Literature update_2095
Literature update_2097




New research published in Nature shows;


Vaginally delivered babies pick up most bacteria from their mother’s gut








Colonization of the gut begins in early life and is highly influenced by method of birth (vaginal versus Caesarean), method of feeding (formula feeding versus breastfeeding), and exposure to antibiotics1. It is known that babies pick up microbes from their environment and their mother’s microbiomes, such as the mouth, skin, vagina, gastrointestinal tract, and breasts.


Research has shown that babies born vaginally have different gut bacteria than those delivered by Caesarean. Published in Nature this year, the largest study ever on neonatal microbes discovered that whereas vaginally born babies got most of their gut bacteria from their mother, babies born via caesarian acquire more bacteria associated with hospital environments in their guts 2. Researchers also discovered that most of the microbiome of vaginally delivered newborns did not come from the mother’s vaginal bacteria, but from the mother’s gut.


This is new information since previous studies suggested that vaginal bacteria were swallowed by the baby on its way down the birth canal. However, this large-scale study found babies had very few of their mother’s vaginal bacteria in their guts, with no difference between babies born vaginally or by cesarean.



Babies pick up microbes from their enivronment and their mother. Image credit Danger Insitute, Genome Research.

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Mother's gut health important

The microbes a baby inherits from its mother play a crucial role in determining the child’s health later in life. It is widely accepted that the community of microbes living in our digestive tract play a vital role in keeping us healthy. When there are imbalances in this community we are at greater risk of developing chronic diseases affecting our metabolism and overall health 3. Early microbial colonization is closely linked with a range of conditions in childhood and adult life, including obesity, allergies and inflammatory conditions 4,5.


Every mother wants to give their children the healthiest possible start in life. Besides considering the choices regarding breastfeeding, place of delivery and delivery method, mothers(-to-be) can already start boosting their baby’s microbiome through optimizing their own gut microbes. In conjunction with medical professionals, women can consider adding probiotics to their diets to optimize their gut microbes already during pregnancy and lactation.

Read the scientific article:  Stunted microbiota and opportunistic pathogen colonization in caesarean-section birth 





1 Dreyer J.L., Liebl A.L. Early colonization of the gut microbiome and its relationship with obesity. Human Microbe Journal 2018;10:1-5.

2 Shao Y., Forster S.C., et al. Stunted microbiota and opportunistic pathogen colonization in caesarean-section birth. Nature 2019;574:117-121.

3 Proctor L.M., Creasy, et al. The Integrative Human Microbiome Project. Nature 2019(569) 641–648

4 Gensollen T, Blumberg RS. Correlation between early-life regulation of the immune system by microbiota and allergy development. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017;139(4):1084–1091.

5 Soderborg, T.K., Clark, S.E., et al. The gut microbiota in infants of obese mothers increases inflammation and susceptibility to NAFLD. Nat Commun 2018;4462(9.)











A healthy mother - a healthy baby

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