Just published: the largest ever study on neonatal microbiomes. The study published in Nature (Sept 18th, 2019) found babies born by C-section have an altered gut microbiome when compared to babies born vaginally.

IMAGE CREDIT By Drizzypal - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63...

Researchers sequenced gut microbiome samples from 314 babies born vaginally and 282 born by C-section. The published results were covered by worldwide media including this excellent article by Popsci.

https://www.popsci.com/microbiome-baby-newborn-health-c-section/

This Popsci article features quotes from Dr Meghan Azad, one of the professors featured in our current Group B Strep course, and also one of the professors to be featured in our upcoming breast milk course (launching soon!)

"Eventually, the microbiomes of C-section babies shift to better match those of vaginally born babies. But the period of time when they were different is still significant" - Dr Azad says in the article. “Disrupting the microbiome in the early period could have long-lasting impacts, even if it normalizes. That’s when the immune system develops.”

This is a really important point.

There is a narrow window surrounding birth for the optimal training of the infant immune system. If you miss the window (because of C-section / antibiotics / formula feeding), the right microbes may not be present in the infant gut at the right time to optimally train the infant immune system. As Dr Azad says, there may be long-lasting effects on the child's health because this narrow window has been missed.

That's why every health professional needs to be up-to-date with the latest research on the infant microbiome so they can support parents with vaginal birth (when possible), undisturbed immediate skin-to-skin contact and exclusive breastfeeding. This will help ensure the narrow window for optimal immune training is not missed.

For evidence-based online courses featuring world-leading professors like Dr Meghan Azad that explain the infant microbiome https://microbirth.teachable.com/

Science ref: Yan Shao et al. (2019) Stunted gut microbiota and increased pathogen colonisation associated with caesarean birth. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1560-1