Objectives: Bifidobacterium species are one of the major components of the infant's intestine microbiota. Colonization with bifidobacteria in early infancy is suggested to be important for health in later life. However, information remains limited regarding the source of these microbes. Here, we investigated whether specific strains of bifidobacteria in the maternal intestinal flora are transmitted to their infant's intestine.
Materials and methods: Fecal samples were collected from healthy 17 mother and infant pairs (Vaginal delivery: 12; Cesarean section delivery: 5). Mother's feces were collected twice before delivery. Infant's feces were collected at 0 (meconium), 3, 7, 30, 90 days after birth. Bifidobacteria isolated from feces were genotyped by multilocus sequencing typing, and the transitions of bifidobacteria counts in infant's feces were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR.
Results: Stains belonging to Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium catenulatum, Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum, and Bifidobacterium pseudocatenulatum, were identified to be monophyletic between mother's and infant's intestine. Eleven out of 12 vaginal delivered infants carried at least one monophyletic strain. The bifidobacterial counts of the species to which the monophyletic strains belong, increased predominantly in the infant's intestine within 3 days after birth. Among infants delivered by C-section, monophyletic strains were not observed. Moreover, the bifidobacterial counts were significantly lower than the vaginal delivered infants until 7 days of age.
Conclusions: Among infants born vaginally, several Bifidobacterium strains transmit from the mother and colonize the infant's intestine shortly after birth. Our data suggest that the mother's intestine is an important source for the vaginal delivered infant's intestinal microbiota.