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Method of delivery affects stabilization of gut microbiota

News: May 13, 2015

Bacteria colonize the intestines at the time of birth. But the composition of the gut microbiota is affected by the method of delivery and subsequent consumption of breast milk or formula. Sahlgrenska Academy and the Halmstad County Hospital have completed a joint study on the topic together with BGI in China.


Large quantities of bacteria colonize the intestines at the time of birth. During the first year of life, they evolve to a relatively stable ecosystem, the normal gut microbiota.

Detailed understanding

A study comparing intestinal microbiota among almost 100 infants born at Halmstad County Hospital during their first year of life with that of their mothers has provided researchers at the University of Gothenburg with a more detailed understanding of the process.

Inherit fewer bacteria

The collaborative effort with the hospital and researchers in China found that cesarean-born infants inherit fewer bacteria from their mothers than those who have vaginal deliveries.

"More surprisingly, weaning from breast milk appears to have even a great impact on maturation to an adult-like microbiota," say ProfessorsFredrik Bäckhed and Jovanna Dahlgren and Sahlgrenska Academy. "The microbiota mature into an adult-like microbiota slower in infants who continue to nurse after starting on solid food at one year of life than those who are weaned completely."

Potential marker of diseases

The study has contributed to knowledge of how the trillions of bacteria in the human gut may provide amino acids, vitamins and other vital nutrients to the developing infant.

"We have laid the foundation for additional research about the composition of intestinal microbiota as a potential marker for elevated risk of developing various diseases," Professor Bäckhed says.

The article "Dynamics and stabilization of the human gut microbiome during the first year of life" will appear in Cell Host & Microbe on May 13. The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish research council funded the study.


Link to journal: http://www.cell.com/press

For additional information, feel free to contact:
Fredrik Bäckhed, Professor, Sahlgrenska Academy, and Principal Investigator, Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research, University of Gothenburg
Office +46 31-342 7833

Jovanna Dahlgren, professor och enhetschef för Centrum för Tillväxtforskning på barn, Göteborgs universitet


Originally published on: sahlgrenska.gu.se

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