Research: Birth Routes and Bacteria

Midwifery Today August 4, 2010

A new study shows that a newborn’s first exposure to bacteria differs according to how that baby is born. Led by researchers from the University of Puerto Rico, the study examined the types of bacteria on newborns and compared c-sectioned babies to those born vaginally.

Babies born vaginally were covered in bacteria similar to that found in their mother’s vagina—bacteria that researchers noted may be useful for protecting the baby against various diseases. The babies born via cesarean section had acquired bacterial colonies commonly found on human skin, primarily the Staphylococcus genus bacteria, which can cause deadly infections.

Researchers noted that their findings “establish an important baseline” for studying how mode of delivery affects an infant’s health.

~ M. Dominguez-Bello, et al. Delivery mode shapes the acquisition and structure of the initial microbiota across multiple body habitats in newborns. PNAS early edition, doi:10.1073/pnas.1002601107 Accessed 21 Jun 2010.

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