Authors: Martha Powell, Future Science Group
Mode of delivery influences the development of the gut microbiota in infants, with new research suggesting this may subsequently affect infants’ respiratory health during their first year of life.
Previous research has indicated that early life microbiota is impacted by mode of delivery, although this mostly depends on maternal antibiotic exposure. This research, the prospective Microbiome Utrecht Infant Study involved 120 infants and aimed to assess the effects of delivery method in infants.
The researchers analyzed gut microbiota development in 46 infants delivered by caesarean (C-) section and 76 vaginally delivered infants by assessing 10 stool samples collected during their first year. Antibiotic administration in mothers undergoing a C-section was postponed until the umbilical cord had been clamped, and maternal stool samples were also examined 2 weeks post-delivery.
The results, presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID; 13–16 April, Amsterdam, the Netherlands), reported that children born by C-section had a delay in the normal development of their gut microbiota and a higher presence of potentially harmful bacteria, when compared with vaginally-delivered infants. Specifically, the development of beneficial Bifidobacterium species was delayed, and the higher levels of potentially pathogenic bacteria was irrespective of length of hospital stay, antibiotic use or feeding type.
In addition, C-section infants had increased risk of respiratory infections during their first year of life, something the team suggest could be linked to the delayed development of the gut microbiota.