Delivery Mode, Infant Diet Affect Gut Microbiota

(HealthDay News) – Mode of delivery and infant diet affect the gut microbiota early in life, according to a study published online Feb. 11 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

Meghan B. Azad, PhD, from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and colleagues characterized the gut microbiota of 24 healthy infants participating in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development birth cohort. High-throughput DNA sequencing was used to characterize the microbiota composition from fecal samples collected at 4 months of age.

The researchers identified high variability in the fecal microbiota profiles among the infants. Actinobacteria (mainly the genus Bifidobacterium) and Firmicutes (with diverse representation from numerous genera) generally dominated the profiles. Formula-fed infants had increased richness of species, with overrepresentation of Clostridium difficile, compared to breastfed infants. Infants born by cesarean delivery had lower levels of Escherichia-Shigella and Bacteroides species, with infants born by elective cesarean delivery having particularly low bacterial richness and diversity.

“The findings of this study advance our understanding of the gut microbiota of healthy infants and illustrate how this essential microbial community can be influenced by parent and physician decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet,” the authors write.

One author and their institution disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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