Sharon Muza at Lamaze International’s blog Science & Sensibility recently asked me to do a guest blog on the source of the human microbiome. My post – The Healthy birth: Dyad or Triad? Exploring Birth and the Microbiome – focuses on literature from the last few years identifying three potential sources: birth mode (vaginal or Cesarean), birth location (home, birth center, and hospital), and first foods (breastfeeding and/or formula). New findings that were especially interesting to me included a study that found infants born via emergency had microbiomes more similar to that of vaginally born infants. This finding may suggest that the process of labor is important to proper transmission. As for birth location, relatively little work has been done on the microbiome of birth centers and dedicated labor and delivery wards, which might have different environmental microbiomes than mixed use operating rooms where Cesarean delivered infants acquire potentially pathogenic bacteria from the hospital environment. Finally, the influence of breast milk sugars seems to serve to select for specific bacteria in the infant gut. All of these studies provide an exciting beginning glance into the source of bacteria for infants. As all good science does, these results also provoke additional questions.
If you have questions about my guest post at Science and Sensibility, any other of my blog posts, or any other microbiome-related questions please feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email through my contact form.