Your Health

Babies' First Germs Depend On Type Of Birth

Babies start their lives with a clean slate. But it doesn't last long.

Lactobacillus i i

hide captionNewborns delivered vaginally get a healthy dose of the Lactobacillus bacteria.

iStockphoto.com
Lactobacillus

Newborns delivered vaginally get a healthy dose of the Lactobacillus bacteria.

iStockphoto.com

All sorts of bacteria move right in at birth. And how a baby is delivered — vaginally or by Cesarean section — can make all the difference in what kinds of bugs start calling the newborn home.

Researchers who tested 10 babies found those born vaginally tended to get colonized by bacteria such as Lactobacillus from the mother's vaginal canal. C-section babies, however, got more Staphylococcus, a type of microbe usually found on the skin and one that sometimes causes nasty infections.

The results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Microbiologist Maria Dominquez-Bello tells Shots the bacteria on C-section babies may come from the first person to handle the baby.

Without the exposure to vaginal bacteria from a natural birth, C-section babies may be more at risk of getting infections and even asthma. As the researchers note, the majority of antibiotic-resistant skin infections occur in infants born by C-section.

Dominquez-Bello says that doctors might be able to reduce those bacterial risks by wrapping C-section babies in gauze that's been exposed to the mother's vaginal bacteria. It may be worth a look considering that C-section births are at a record high.

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