The type of birth (vaginal delivery or C-section) affects the development of gut microbiota in newborns and may affect their health later in life, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Canadian researchers studied the development of the gut bacteria – gut microbiota – of newborns according to delivery type in order to analyse how this could influence their future health. Research showed that C-section alters the colonisation of a newborn’s gut microbiota as it prevents direct exposure to and contact with the mother’s microbiota. According to the research team, caesarean section may increase adults’ risk of suffering from a range of conditions including asthma, obesity, diabetes or allergies.

As we have been explaining in this blog, the bacteria that live in the intestine play a very important role in our health as they contribute to key functions that include digesting food and stimulating the development of the immune system. The study’s researchers tried to understand how gut microbiota is established in early life and which factors may affect this process. To do this, they analysed the data of 24 healthy infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study, representative of the Canadian population according to delivery type and feeding method.

The research also compared the differences between formula milk and breastfeeding, concluding that the latter could benefit the infant’s health and reduce the risk of suffering from certain conditions.