Vaginal seeding transfers maternal bacteria into the body of a newborn born by caesarean section

Beneficial bacteria are restored to the skin surface and stool of newborns who were delivered by caesarean section and wiped of their mother’s vaginal fluids after birth, according to a new study.

First randomized study of its kind published in a scientific journal mBio, a team of researchers, including Rutgers scientists, found that a process known as vaginal seeding definitively implants new strains of the mother’s bacteria into the baby’s body. These strains are usually not present in newborns because the infant is pulled directly from the mother’s womb, bypassing the vaginal canal during a caesarean section.

Our study is the first double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial to determine whether maternal bacteria colonize the neonatal skin and feces by intravaginal inoculation. “


Maria Gloria Dominguez Bello, study author, Henry Rutgers Professor of Microbiome and Health, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS)

A neonate is an infant less than 28 days old. In a randomized, blinded study, neither the participants nor the study coordinator asked which subjects were ingesting the substance under study (in this case, the participating mother’s vaginal fluids) and who were receiving placebo. I didn’t know there was.

“Although there were some limitations in this early study, such as the small sample size and only two samples taken over a long period of time, we observed significant effects of vaginal seeding on the neonatal microbiota. ,” Dominguezbero said.

The term microbiome refers to the collection of genomes or essential genetic material from all microorganisms in the environment. The term microbiome usually refers to microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi found within a particular environment such as the skin or intestines. Over the last few decades, scientists have discovered that these microbial communities interact with the metabolism, immune system, and central nervous system, and play pivotal roles in human health.

Numerous studies have shown that there are significant differences in the microbiomes of infants born by caesarean section and those born by vaginal delivery. Some scientists, like Dominguez Bello, theorize that babies born by caesarean section may miss their first exposure to live microbes to colonize their bodies and stay healthy. . A growing number of studies show that inhibition of microbial colonization at critical early stages of development alters metabolic and immune programs and is associated with an increased risk of immune and metabolic diseases such as asthma, food allergies, obesity and diabetes. I am proving that there is

For the study, scientists took microbiota samples from the skin and stool of 20 infants at two different ages, one day and one month old. They found evidence of maternal microbes engrafting infants. They also found that infants who received vaginal inoculation carried different bacterial populations on the skin and in the stool when compared to infants who received placebo. Their microbiome contained patterns of bacterial diversity characteristic of breastfed and vaginally delivered babies.

As part of ongoing research, the researchers will continue to assess the infant’s microbiome over the next five years, tracking their growth patterns and whether markers of metabolic and immune-related disease are expressed. .

Scientists also continue research to increase the number of babies and assess infant health.

“Right now, it is extremely important to evaluate the health benefits and safety of vaginal seeding in large randomized controlled trials,” said Dominguezbero.

Other Rutgers University scientists who participated in the study include Martin Blazer, chairman of the Henry Rutgers University Human Microbiome Committee and director of the Rutgers Center for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine (CABM). Researcher Haipeng Sun and visiting researcher Jincheng Wang from the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, SEBS. CABM researcher Tanima Kundu.

Other scientists involved in the study include Suchitra Hooligan, principal investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Bethesda, Maryland, as well as Johns Hopkins University, Innova Children’s Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia, Including researchers at Innova Women’s Hospital. .

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Reference magazines:

Mueller, Northern Territory, other. (2023) Maternal bacterial engraftment in multiple body sites of caesarean section in neonates born after vaginal seeding – a randomized controlled trial. mBio. doi.org/10.1128/mbio.00491-23.

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