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Mini-Microbiome: Babies Get Biome Boost From Mom's Birth Canal

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We've been hearing some buzz about the microbiomes of C-section babies recently. In "Baby's First Bacteria," we took a look at how a baby's journey into the world brings him in contact with the bacteria that get his microbiome started. C-section babies, who don't come into contact with the bacteria in the birth canal, are developing their microbiomes differently. Who knew how your baby is born affects how he grows?

In our post, we mentioned some interesting research that is being done on how to give these C-section babies a microbiome boost. It's a question a few doctors are trying to answer; turns out, a bunch of studies are being done to see if "seeding" might be a solution.

Inoculating Your Baby

Dr. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello at NYU is experimenting with swabbing C-section babies with cloth soaked in vaginal fluid. Might sound gross, but might be a really good idea. Generally, when a baby is born, they get a nice wipe-down first thing. This cleans them of blood and mucous and all the squidgy bits that come out with the baby. Now, the mothers participating in this study are soaking gauze in their vaginal fluid before giving birth and are wiping down their newborns with the cloth after birth, instead of cleaning them. While this may make for some less perfect newborn pictures, it also brings the baby in contact with the bacteria it would have gathered while traveling through it's mother's birth canal.

The theory is that it is this passage through the birth canal and exposure to all of the bacterial microbiota that help babies develop their own microbiome. The miracle of birth is also the miracle of the microbiome :P While preliminary research is showing that "seeding" is helping C-section babies grow their microbiome, it doesn't seem to be giving them the microbiome of a baby who squeezed his way out of his mom via a natural birth.

Some moms are going ahead and trying this on their own. Hoping to give their kids a head start, they swab their babies at home and get those good bacteria to colonize little Davey and Meggie.

Get Those Microbiomes Growing

Development of the microbiome doesn't stop there. Breastfeeding, changes in diet, use of antibiotics, contact with other people and animals -- so many things contribute to the development of a baby's microbiome. Stop by the blog again soon and you might learn more about the next stages in a baby's microbiome development :)

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