How does maternal microbiota impact newborns?

How does maternal microbiota impact newborns?

Romina Hidalgo, Head of Science at Bifidice & Kevin Meza Achahue, Scientist - R&D Specialist at Bifidice. 3 minutes reading.

As mothers, we often wonder what we pass on to our children. Physical traits, behaviors, and even genetic characteristics are probably the first things that come to mind. However, there is a factor that often goes unnoticed but is extremely important: the establishment of a healthy microbiota in newborns. Growing evidence shows the importance of microbial transmission during childbirth and how this process is crucial for ensuring people's health in the early years of life.

Our first inheritance: the microbiota

The first microbiota, as far as we currently know, develops immediately after vaginal birth through the transmission of the mother's vaginal and gut microbiota to the newborn [1][2]. This process contributes to the development of the baby's immune system and protection against potential infections and diseases [3][4]. Its importance is such that new evidence suggests the influence of a healthy newborn microbiota on brain development and behavior [5][6].

The first microbiota develops immediately after vaginal birth through the transmission of the mother's vaginal and gut microbiota to the newborn

Interestingly, emerging studies are showing that areas traditionally believed to be sterile and important for fetal development are not actually sterile. Bacteria, viruses, and fungi have been found in the healthy maternal uterus, as well as in tissues such as amniotic fluid and the endometrium [7]. However, there is still no scientific consensus on whether it is possible to cultivate the human microbiota before birth.

What happens when there is no exposure to maternal microbiota?

The type of delivery significantly influences how the newborn is exposed to maternal microbiota. In the case of cesarean section births, there is inadequate contact with the vaginal and intestinal microbiota, and instead, there is greater exposure to environmental microorganisms. As a result, the intestinal microbiota of a newborn born by cesarean section is significantly different from that of a baby born vaginally, although these differences tend to even out over time [8].

Cesarean section-induced dysbiosis can affect the activation of the intestinal lining and the development of the immune system.

The lack of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria and the presence of opportunistic or pathogenic bacteria in the new intestinal microbiota can trigger diseases. Cesarean section-induced dysbiosis (imbalance in the intestinal microbiota) can affect the activation of the intestinal lining and the development of the immune system, and it has been suggested that some metabolic and autoimmune problems could be associated with these changes [9][10].

As a mother, what can I do?

Fortunately, there are actions that can contribute to a better microbiota in newborns before and after birth, and one of the most important ones is breastfeeding. Breast milk contains live microorganisms and components that interact with the infant's intestinal microbiota, which can help strengthen it.

Furthermore, maintaining healthy habits such as a balanced diet can promote the establishment of a healthy microbiota at all stages of life. In this regard, there is evidence of the benefits of using prebiotics and probiotics during pregnancy for both the mother and the child [11][12]. Products like our functional ingredient can promote the establishment of a microbiota enriched with beneficial microorganisms, thus reducing the occurrence of symptoms related to metabolic and immunological imbalances.

One of the previous studies conducted at Bifidice demonstrated the effect of the ingredient on children with secondary immunodeficiency associated with intestinal dysbiosis and was approved by the Local Ethics Committee of the Federal Institute for the Budget of Science, "Federal Scientific Center for Medical and Preventive Technologies of Risk Control for Public Health," at the Siberian State Medical University, Russia. You can find a summary of that study here.

In any case, to conclude, it is always advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before considering the consumption of probiotics during pregnancy



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  2. Milani, C., Duranti, S., Bottacini, F., Casey, E., Turroni, F., Mahony, J., Belzer, C., Delgado Palacio, S., Arboleya Montes, S., Mancabelli, L., Lugli, G. A., Rodriguez, J. M., Bode, L., de Vos, W., Gueimonde, M., Margolles, A., van Sinderen, D., & Ventura, M. (2017). The First Microbial Colonizers of the Human Gut: Composition, Activities, and Health Implications of the Infant Gut Microbiota. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 81(4), e00036-17. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00036-17.
  3. European Commission. (2019). Bacteria passed from mother to baby may play a role in later health. Horizon Magazine. Retrieved from 
  4. Gaufin, T., Tobin, N. H., & Aldrovandi, G. M. (2018). The importance of the microbiome in pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases. Current Opinion in Pediatrics, 30(1), 117-124. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000576.
  5. Dawson, S. L., O'Hely, M., Jacka, F. N., Ponsonby, A.-L., Symeonides, C., Loughman, A., Collier, F., Moreno-Betancur, M., Sly, P., Burgner, D., Tang, M. L. K., Saffery, R., Ranganathan, S., Conlon, M. A., Harrison, L. C., Brix, S., Kristiansen, K., Vuillermin, P., & the BIS Investigator Group. (2021). Maternal prenatal gut microbiota composition predicts child behaviour. EBioMedicine, 68, 103400. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103400. 
  6. Mady, E. A., Doghish, A. S., El-Dakroury, W. A., Elkhawaga, S. Y., Ismail, A., El-Mahdy, H. A., Elsakka, E. G. E., & El-Husseiny, H. M. (2023). Impact of the mother's gut microbiota on infant microbiome and brain development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 150, 105195. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2023.105195.
  7. Stinson, L. F., Boyce, M. C., Payne, M. S., & Keelan, J. A. (2019). The Not-so-Sterile Womb: Evidence That the Human Fetus Is Exposed to Bacteria Prior to Birth. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10, 1124. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2019.01124.
  8. Ríos-Covian, D., Langella, P., & Martín, R. (2021). From Short- to Long-Term Effects of C-Section Delivery on Microbiome Establishment and Host Health. Microorganisms, 9(10), 2122. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms9102122.
  9. Shaterian, N., Abdi, F., Ghavidel, N., & Alidost, F. (2021). Role of cesarean section in the development of neonatal gut microbiota: A systematic review. Open Medicine, 16(1), 624-639. doi: 10.1515/med-2021-0270.
  10. Zhang, C., Li, L., Jin, B., Xu, X., Zuo, X., Li, Y., & Li, Z. (2021). The Effects of Delivery Mode on the Gut Microbiota and Health: State of Art. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, 724449. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.724449
  11. Healthline. (2021). Should You Take Probiotics During Pregnancy? Retrieved from
  12. Elias, J., Bozzo, P., & Einarson, A. (2011). Are probiotics safe for use during pregnancy and lactation? Canadian Family Physician, 57(3), 299-301.
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