A new study led by Prof. Paul Wilmes of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), Université du Luxembourg, Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, found that during a natural vaginal birth, specific bacteria from the mother’s gut are passed on to the baby and stimulate the baby’s immune responses. This transmission is impacted in children born by caesarean section. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.
The study was supported by the Fondation André et Henriette Losch as well as by grants from the ATTRACT, CORE and AFR programmes of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). Additional funds were provided by the Université du Luxembourg. Sample collection, processing and storage were co-funded by the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg under the Personalised Medicine Consortium Diabetes programme.
The Université du Luxembourg is a research-oriented public university, founded in 2003, with an international, multilingual and interdisciplinary character, situated on Belval Campus in Luxembourg City. The university has already built a reputation as being among the best young universities in the world.
Humans are born germ-free. Yet, birth is normally the time when vitally important bacteria start to colonise the body including the gut, skin and lungs. Researchers have long suspected that this early colonisation sets the course for one’s later health.
A caesarean section may prevent certain bacteria, ordinarily interacting with the baby’s immune system, from being passed on from the mother to the new-born. Paul Wilmes, head of the Eco-Systems Biology research group at the LCSB, and his colleagues have now found the first evidence of this in new-borns; half of whom were delivered by caesarean section.
“This may explain why, epidemiologically speaking, caesarean-born children suffer more frequently from chronic, immune system-linked diseases compared to babies born vaginally.”
“It could be that the immune system of these children is set on a different path early on.” … “We now want to further investigate this link mechanistically and find ways by which we might replace the lacking maternal bacterial strains in caesarean-born babies, e.g. by administering probiotics.”
“Of course, it is already clear that we should not intervene too strongly in the birth process. Babies should only be delivered by caesarean section when it is medically necessary.” … “We need to be aware that, in doing so, we are apparently intervening massively in the natural interactions between humans and bacteria.” – Prof. Paul Wilmes, Université du Luxembourg