Molecular epidemiological study of vertical transmission of vaginal Lactobacillus species from mothers to newborn infants in Japanese, by arbitrarily primed polymerase chain reaction

J Infect Chemother. 2002 Mar;8(1):43-9. doi: 10.1007/s101560200005.


We investigated mother-to-newborn infant transmission of Lactobacillus species in Japanese by the typing of isolates from the vagina of pregnant women and stool specimens from their newborn infants. All infants were born by uncomplicated vaginal delivery and were basically fed breast milk. Lactobacillus strains were fingerprinted by arbitrarily primed polymerase chain reaction (AP-PCR), using ERIC1R and ERIC2 primers. Of 86 pregnant women tested, 71 (82.6%) were positive for vaginal lactobacilli. At 5 days after birth, 24 (33.8%) of the 71 infants whose mothers were lactobacilli-positive had fecal lactobacilli, while only 1 (6.7%) of the 15 infants delivered from the vaginal lactobacilli-negative mothers was lactobacilli-positive ( P < 0.01). Lactobacillus crispatus was the most prevalent species of vaginal lactobacilli in mothers and of fecal lactobacilli in infants at 5 days of age, whereas Lactobacillus gasseri was the most common in infants at 1 month of age. Identification to the species level, followed by AP-PCR typing, demonstrated that 23.3% of the 86 infants were likely to be colonized in the intestine by the vaginal lactobacilli of their mothers, and that only 2 of the infants retained the same vaginal lactobacilli until 1 month of age. These results suggest that approximately one-fourth of infants acquire vaginal lactobacilli from their mothers at birth, and that the acquired lactobacilli do not last in the intestine of the infant long-term, but rather, are replaced by ones from milk or unknown sources after birth. AP-PCR with primers ERIC1R and ERIC2 is indicated as a potential tool for the typing of Lactobacillus strains.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical*
  • Lactobacillus / classification
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Lactobacillus / isolation & purification*
  • Milk, Human / microbiology
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vagina / microbiology*