It’s well known that every person’s gut bacteria are vital for digestion and overall health, but when does this gut microbiome start?
New research by scientists at McMaster University and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany has found that this happens during and after birth, and not before.
McMaster researchers Deborah Sloboda and Katherine Kennedy examined prenatal stool (meconium) samples taken from 20 babies during a breech cesarean delivery.
“The main conclusion of our study is that we are not colonized before birth. Rather, our relationship with our gut bacteria emerges after birth and during infancy, ”said Kennedy, study lead author and doctoral student, whose results are published in Microbiology of nature.
Recent studies have sparked controversy by claiming that we are colonized by gut bacteria before birth. But, Kennedy said, studies like these have been criticized for the way they control contamination.
“By only including breech cesarean deliveries in healthy pregnant women, we were able to prevent the transmission of bacteria that occurs naturally in a vaginal delivery,” said Thorsten Braun, co- principal author and principal consultant in obstetrics and deputy director of the Department of experimentation. Obstetrics ”at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.
Kennedy said recent data suggests that a person’s relationship to their own gut bacteria is most important early in life, during critical stages of immunological and physiological development.
Sloboda, co-lead author, agrees.
“The fact that colonization of the guts of infants occurs during and after birth means that not only is it vulnerable to early environmental influences, but could also offer a potential window for intervention,” said Sloboda, professor of biochemistry and science. biomedical sciences at McMaster. and the Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Programs.
“While most of the exact mechanisms surrounding gut bacteria and their role in our early development are unclear, finding out when and how we are colonized is a key first step.”
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