Maternal Faecal Microbiota Transplantation Restores Gut Microbiota in Caesarean-Born Infants

MICROBIOTA of the gut, which have a profound influence on the host’s body functions, can be restored through faecal transplantation in infants born through caesarean section (C-section).

Generally, newborns are exposed to gut bacteria from their mother at birth; however, birth by C-section has been shown to have adverse effects on normal gut microbiota development. Infants born by vaginal delivery are colonised with maternal faecal microbes and because C-section birth disrupts mother-to-neonate transmission, the natural transfer of microbes is prevented.

Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has been successfully used to correct gut microbiota dysbiosis in adults and therefore researchers at the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland, investigated whether postnatal, orally delivered FMT could restore the intestinal microbiota of C-section-born infants. Prof Willem de Vos, senior author of the study, stated that: “Birth by C-section is associated with an increased risk of many immune-related diseases, suggesting that the lack of maternal microbes in early life may have long-term consequences on the health of the child.”

FMT was applied immediately post birth using faecal samples from the infants’ mother, which were collected 3 weeks prior to delivery (n=7). Gut microbiota composition was monitored for 3 months and compared to untreated C-section-born infants and vaginally born infants. Results showed that all seven FMT-treated C-section infants remained healthy and had no negative effects from the treatment. Fellow author Dr Katri Korpela, University of Helsinki, noted that: “The gut microbiota of the FMT-treated infants became very quickly similar to that of vaginally born infants. It did not resemble that of the untreated C-section born infants, showing that the treatment was effective in restoring normal microbiota development.”

This study demonstrated that gut microbiota of infants born by C-section can be restored through maternal FMT. Dr Otto Helve, University of Helsinki, further explained that: “This simple procedure can normalise gut microbiota colonisation and development in C-section born infants, which will likely contribute to reduced risk of developing chronic diseases that abnormal gut microbiota may confer.” However, the researchers also noted that this procedure should only be performed after careful clinical and microbiological screening of the mother for potential pathogens.