Partial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via vaginal microbial transfer

Nat Med. 2016 Mar;22(3):250-3. doi: 10.1038/nm.4039. Epub 2016 Feb 1.


Exposure of newborns to the maternal vaginal microbiota is interrupted with cesarean birthing. Babies delivered by cesarean section (C-section) acquire a microbiota that differs from that of vaginally delivered infants, and C-section delivery has been associated with increased risk for immune and metabolic disorders. Here we conducted a pilot study in which infants delivered by C-section were exposed to maternal vaginal fluids at birth. Similarly to vaginally delivered babies, the gut, oral and skin bacterial communities of these newborns during the first 30 d of life was enriched in vaginal bacteria--which were underrepresented in unexposed C-section-delivered infants--and the microbiome similarity to those of vaginally delivered infants was greater in oral and skin samples than in anal samples. Although the long-term health consequences of restoring the microbiota of C-section-delivered infants remain unclear, our results demonstrate that vaginal microbes can be partially restored at birth in C-section-delivered babies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacteroides / genetics
  • Cesarean Section / methods*
  • Delivery, Obstetric
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lactobacillus / genetics
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Metagenome
  • Microbiota*
  • Mouth / microbiology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Skin / microbiology*
  • Vagina / microbiology*