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C-Section, Formula May Disrupt 'Good' Gut Bacteria in Babies
Date:2/11/2013

adian provinces at 4 months of age.

Compared with children who had been born vaginally, children who had been delivered by C-section had less diverse flora, lower levels of Shigella bacteria and none of the bacteria known as Bacteroides at all.

"Shigella and Bacteroides are organisms picked up from mom and considered first colonizers," Kozyrskyj explained. "They lay the foundation for further microbes that become part of our normal microbiome."

Meanwhile, infants who were fed formula as opposed to breast milk also had less diverse flora and, in addition, had more of the bacteria Clostridium difficile, which had been associated with the development of allergies.

The study was a small one, but the researchers have collected fecal samples on 200 children and will be analyzing those in the future. They hope to eventually enroll 2,500 children in the study.

It's too soon to say definitively that the changes in the gut microbiome of children born by C-section will develop health problems. And it's possible that changes in the bacterial composition of the intestine as people age will compensate for diminished levels of bacteria in newborns, Kozyrskyj added.

A pediatric expert praised the new study.

"This is an important first step to make an association between intestinal bacteria and mode of delivery and type of feeding," said Dr. Michael Morowitz, a pediatric surgeon with Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Although follow-up studies will be needed, Morowitz added, "This is the latest piece of pretty convincing evidence that determinants very, very early in life can have an impact that lasts for months or years."

More information

Visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health for more on the Human Microbiome Project.

SOURCES: Anita Kozyr
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