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Peripartum environment influences newborn’s microbiome

Posted:  Monday, December 14, 2015

Yet another factor discovered for long term health! A review of the latest studies has helped researchers draw attention to the importance of environmental influences of the developing child’s microbiome. Any disturbance in the environment during pregnancy, delivery and early infancy can influence the newborn’s microbiome which in turn influences long term health and disease risk.

Published in the journal Birth Defects Research Part C Embryo Today, this study provides an overview of the potential influences of a newborn’s microbiome from the clinical perspective. Research suggests that the womb also hosts micro-organisms, which influence the microbiota of the developing foetus. This underlines the importance of the mother’s microbiome.

In this context, it is important to note that modern medical practices influences the early microbiota and therefore bear unintended consequences by interfering with normal development of children's immune, metabolic, and neurologic systems.

Earlier on physician researchers advocated vaginal delivery, and kangaroo care (skin to skin contact) and breastfeeding immediately after delivery. Since then, research has established that these practices are believed to play a crucial role in the intergenerational transfer of the microbiome from mother to infant.

Sharon Meropol, MD, PhD, Associate Director for Research and Evaluation at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital's Center for Child Health and Policy explains that, "Disturbed microbiota could potentially contribute to a wide range of childhood diseases including allergies, asthma, obesity, and autism-like neurodevelopmental conditions. But recent studies suggest that traditional practices like vaginal births, skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth and breastfeeding may promote the development of the microbiome in the infant and help set the trajectory towards healthy development."

In the light of these findings, it is noteworthy that we practice caution in steps that involve transfer and maintenance of the normal microbiota in pregnant mothers and foetuses.

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