Mode of delivery strongly influences the early infant gut microbiome. Children born by cesarean section (C-section) lack Bacteroides species until 6–18 months of age. One hypothesis is that these differences stem from lack of exposure to the maternal vaginal microbiome. Here, we re-evaluate this hypothesis by comparing the microbial profiles of 75 infants born vaginally or by planned versus emergent C-section. Multiple children born by C-section have a high abundance of Bacteroides in their first few days of life, but at 2 weeks, both C-section groups lack Bacteroides (primarily according to 16S sequencing), despite their difference in exposure to the birth canal. Finally, a comparison of microbial strain profiles between infants and maternal vaginal or rectal samples finds evidence for mother-to-child transmission of rectal rather than vaginal strains. These results suggest differences in colonization stability as an important factor in infant gut microbiome composition rather than birth canal exposure.
- infant gut microbiota, caesarean delivery, Bacteroides, delivery mode, transmission of maternal strains
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)