Over 58% of a baby microbiome is inherited from mum

By Shereen Kiddle  23 March 2023 

Image courtesy of Shereen Kiddle

A new study reveals how beneficial microbes are transferred from the mum to baby during and after birth.

Researchers looked into the factors that influence mother-baby microbial transfer during birth and over the first month, including mode of delivery, exposure to antibiotics and breastfeeding.

The study found that babies born by C-section received fewer microbes from their mother’s vagina and gut, but the impact of breast milk is “significantly stronger”.

Accrding to the study, “When comparing CS-born infants with vaginally born infants, we found that the impact of breastmilk was significantly stronger in CS-born infants.”

One of the interesting findings from this study is that if a pathway to a baby receiving beneficial microbes from the mother was “blocked”, for example, because the baby was born by C-section rather than vaginally born— the baby can still acquire beneficial microbes via other routes.

Researchers estimated that whether born vaginally or by C-section, approximately 58.5% of a baby’s microbiome came from the mother.

However, that’s not the end of the story — for in terms of the baby’s long-term health, other research has found that babies born by C-section are at increased risk of developing a number of early life non-communicable diseases.

The new study was published by Bogaert D et al., in Cell Host & Microbes March 8th 2023.

Link to the research on the MicrobiomeCourses website.

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