Maria G Dominguez-Bello, Kassandra M De Jesus-Laboy, Nan Shen, Laura M Cox, Amnon Amir, Antonio Gonzalez, Nicholas A Bokulich, Se Jin Song, Marina Hoashi, Juana I Rivera-Vinas, Keimari Mendez, Rob Knight & Jose C Clemente
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.