Study Suggests C-Section Babies Can Make Up For Lost Bacteria Cells In Other Ways

A new study of Dutch babies shows that no matter how they're born, skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding and avoiding antibiotics help build a baby's microbial diversity.

Katie Sue Webber
Katie Sue Webber
Mom to two sweet little boys. Helping moms is her passion.
Last updated
March 14, 2023

Babies born via c-section don’t have the same levels of microbial exposure as babies born vaginally. Research as shown that this puts them at risk for developing obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and allergies. However, a new study published in Cell Host & Microbe explores if there are ways to compensate for this loss.

Past studies have explored alternative methods for microbial exposure, most notably vaginal seeding, which involves swabbing the mothers vagina and transferring it to a C-section infant’s mouth or skin after birth. These tactics are helpful in the development of the infant microbiome.

But how to further remedy this deficit is at the heart of an emerging field of research.  “C-section babies eventually get colonized, so where does the bacteria eventually come from? And do they come from the mother, from other sources or from the environment?”

To answer the question, researches followed 120 Dutch mothers and babies, collecting skin, nose, saliva, and gut microbiome samples from the infants at two hours, one day, one week, two weeks, and one month post-birth. The results showed that, regardless of delivery method, an average of 58.5% of the infant’s microbiome could be traced back to their mothers. Babies born via C-section who were breastfed had a higher percentage of their microbiome traceable to the mother’s breast milk than those born vaginally, while the vaginal babies had a higher percentage traceable to the mother’s fecal contributions.

Ultimately, the researchers found that breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact is doing a lot of compensatory work to build up a baby’s systems. Their suggestion? “Really try and invest in the breast milk,” give your baby lots of kisses and skin-to-skin, and avoid giving your baby antibiotics.

Read more (via Time)

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