SureBaby Blog

Bacteria Altered by Birth and Feeding Choices, Study Shows

Posted by Alissa Robson

The health of our babies may be changing based on the way mothers are choosing to give birth and feed. What does it mean in the long term?

A new study out of Alberta examined the gut microbiomes (bacteria in the intestinal tracts) of 24 babies, and found distinct differences between those who were born vaginally and thos by C-section, as well as those who were breastfed vs. those who were formula-fed.

In birth, they found that those born vaginally had a greater variety of microbiomes than those by C-section, but that those born by emergency C-section had the most variety of the three. (Though they’re not sure why this is, it may be that in the case of emergency C-section, vaginal birth has already begun.)

In terms of feeding, breastfed babies have less varied quantities of the bacteria than bottle-fed babies overall, but that some of the bacteria in the stools of bottle-fed babies were more harmful, such as the type that causes diarrhea.

This study is only providing a tiny glimpse at understanding the complexity of microbiomes, and very little is known about the long-term impact of the variances in gut bacteria. It is known, however, that babies born by C-section are more prone to conditions like Type 1 diabetes, asthma and obesity later in life.

“I think we should be mindful of the impact on the infant,” study author Anita Kozyrskyj said of elective C-sections. “Even though there might not be obvious symptoms or changes that you see in the infant, that there are some changes to biological processes. Normal physiologic processes.”

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