Feeding Mom’s Poop to C-Section Babies Gives Them Healthy Guts
Newborns have different bacteria, viruses and fungi in their intestines, depending on whether they were born vaginally or by caesarean section - and the latter group is severely disadvantaged. The difference between these gut microbes, collectively known as the microbiome, could have long-term effects on the health of babies undergoing caesarean section, particularly the risk of developing immune-related disorders like allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease. According to a new study, cesarean-section babies who are fed breast milk with feces develop the same microbiomes as babies born vaginally. Babies are born without much of a microbiome. They usually ingest microbes during vaginal delivery, but cesarean babies miss this "bacterial baptism," as some call it. Studies have tried to restore this germination moment by wiping cesarean babies in microbes from their mother's vagina, but it doesn't work well. You need to look further south for a better match. "The bacteria that you find in the baby [intestine] are not found in the vagina, so it is not as likely that it is the source," said Willem de Vos, microbiologist at the University of Helsinki and Wageningen University. said The Scientist. "Fecal-oral transmission is more likely to occur during delivery," he says, because it is "a messy business." The new study, led by de Vos, mimicked this transmission by inserting a small amount of the mother's feces - a few million bacterial cells worth - into the newborn's first bottle of breast milk. Doctors monitored the babies in the maternity ward for two days and followed them up after four weeks and three months. During this time, they also checked the babies' feces to track their microbiological development. The researchers included seven cesarean mothers and their babies whose microbiomes were compared to 29 babies born vaginally and 18 untreated cesarean babies. After three weeks, the treated babies had microbiomes similar to those of babies born vaginally. This is a big deal because it usually takes cesarean babies a full year to update their courage. And within three months at least none of the treated babies developed any adverse health effects: "There's a reason why the opening for babies in all vertebrates is next to the anal opening," said Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello, microbiologist at Rutgers University. New Brunswick, which was not involved in the study, told Science. “This is natural selection, not accidental. And it is a clear message from nature that tells us: "We want the newborns to be exposed to feces." While the study is promising, it is small and will require more research to confirm its results. Nobody should try this on their baby yet - especially not at home. De Vos and his colleagues started a randomized, controlled-follow-up study in which dozen of cesarean babies were given either their mother's feces or a placebo. The researchers will then follow the children's health over several years. De Vos does not recommend anyone doing this experiment at home until more data are available. One of the questions the researchers need to answer is how much feces is the right amount of feces. “We don't know how much babies take in naturally, so getting the right dose requires careful testing,” Maastricht University medical microbiologist John Penders told Science. Until then, waiting for more dates before making your baby eat feces is definitely the right approach.
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Feeding Mommy's Poop to Babies by Caesarean Section Gives them Healthy Guts, as Study Says first appeared in Fatherly.
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