C-Section and Formula-Fed Babies Have Different Microbiome From Breastfed or Vaginal Births

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor Dept Pediatrics Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta Edmonton, AB   

Dr. Kozyrskyj

Anita Kozyrskyj, PhD, Professor
Dept Pediatrics
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta
Edmonton, AB   

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The first year of an infant’s life is a critical time for the development of his or her gut microbiome. Gut microbes not only help infants digest food, but they also “train” their developing immune system. An infant’s environment, from the type of birth and infant diet to use of antibiotics, has a large impact in determining which microbes are present. Frequently these early life exposures occur together. Using data from AllerGen’s CHILD birth cohort and a new analytical approach —called Significance Analysis of Microarrays—we quantified changes to gut microbiota throughout the first year of life according to common combinations of early life exposures.

We found that, compared to vaginally-born and breastfed infants, formula-fed or cesarean-delivered infants had different trajectories of microbial colonization in later infancy, which could have implications for their future health.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Compared to the normal progression of gut microbiota with infant age, formula-fed or cesarean-delivered infants showed altered trajectories of colonization among the bacterial families that have been linked to food allergies and rapid weight gain. Cesarean delivery often leads to difficulties in breastfeeding and antibiotic treatment of the infant. Hence, our findings will help clinicians and parents understand that cesarean birth and subsequent exposures to the newborn can affect the development of gut microbiota in later infancy.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: New methods to identify microbes by their gene structure have considerably advanced our knowledge of the typical composition of gut microbes that inhabit a growing infant. Many studies have attempted to tease apart the unique impact of cesarean section, formula-feeding and antibiotic use on the developing gut microbiome in the infant. However, these early life events frequently occur together and it is important to learn which combinations of birth and postnatal exposures cause a deviation from the normal trajectory of development for gut microbes. Since our study is the first to evaluate the rates of colonization for each type of microbe during infancy according to combined early life exposures, our findings require confirmation in cohorts across the globe. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Our plan is to link these findings to the development of food sensitization, allergic eczema and asthma in the CHILD birth cohort as children get older. CHILD cohort children are currently being assessed at age 5 for the presence of asthma and allergies.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation: This study was funded by the Microbiome Initiative of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. For further information on the CHILD birth cohort study, please see this link: CHILD Study

Farzana Yasmin et al. Cesarean Section, Formula Feeding, and Infant Antibiotic Exposure: Separate and Combined Impacts on Gut Microbial Changes in Later Infancy. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 2017 DOI: 3389/fped.2017.00200

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions. 

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Last Updated on December 15, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD