Scientific evidence accumulated during last ten years have increasingly shown importance of early development of healthy microbiomes in newborns and infants. Failure or delay in this process can result in various metabolic and immune conditions such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), type-1-diabetes, asthma, allergies and others.
Main reservoir of bacteria which serve as “seed” for new microbiome in newborns is the mother. Babies born by natural birth and which were breastfed, are automatically exposed to several mother´s microbiomes: vaginal, gut, oral and skin. On the contrary, birth by Cesarean section, feeding only by baby-formula, or damage of the mother´s microbiome due to the antibiotic therapy or other reasons, leads to different composition of the newborn´s microbiome. For example, differences between microbiomes of the babies born by C-section and those born vaginally, can be sometimes observed up to several years after birth.
There is an ongoing debate among researchers, which of the mother´s microbiomes (vaginal, oral, gut, skin) is most critical for the “initiation„ of which microbiomes in newborns and, which other factors may contribute to faster or slower development of the healthy microbiomes. Many factors, such as lifestyle and nutrition, are likely to influence infant microbiomes in the same manner as in the adults. All conseqeunces of the impaired microbiomes on the development of the immune and other systems in infants are yet to be defined.
Currently, two questions are being investigated:
- how to prevent damage to the mother´s microbiome before delivery?
- how to restore microbiome in pre-term born babies and babies born by C-section immediately after birth?
In the latter case, a partial microbiome restauration has been achieved in experiments with application of mother´s vaginal fluids on newborns. Another alternative is direct manipulation of baby´s microbiomes with pre-defined mixtures of pre- and probiotic bacteria.
Finally, breastfeeding is highly recommended as a natural way of exposure to mother´s microbiome and, as a source of specific types of sugars (oligosaccharides) in mother´s milk which stimulate growth of beneficial bacteria in baby´s gut.