Babies delivered via Cesarean section often have different gut microbes than those delivered vaginally, but new research using mom-to-infant microbial transplants has been successful in boosting gut health and long-term health outcomes of C-section babies.
Although it might sound a little off-putting, babies who were fed tiny amounts of their mothers’ fecal material in clinical trials developed thriving gut bacteria similar to those delivered vaginally. The babies were given a very small amount in a controlled setting and showed no negative health implications from the procedure.
Babies born vaginally are covered in their mother’s microbes when they pass through the birth canal, but C-section babies do not experience this, leading to the differing levels of bacteria that colonize the guts of these newborns.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of a healthy microbiome and research shows that Cesarean-born children have a higher likelihood of developing microbiome-related diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease.
In the trial, doctors collected stool and blood samples from 17 mothers who were due to undergo elective C-sections. Soon after birth, the newborns were given a few million cells of the live fecal bacteria in their first milk feed. When comparing samples of treated newborns to vaginally delivered babies, their gut microbes were remarkably similar.
Although the results show promising potential, the researchers were clear that the trial took place in a highly controlled setting, and attempting to replicate the results outside of a carefully regulated medical setting could result in dangerous health outcomes.
Many determinants of our lifelong health begin in early life and even in the womb. With more trials, this discovery could be key to giving more newborns a strong gut right off the bat. If you’re an adult looking to boost your microbiome, check out this article for some tips!