Initial colonization of the gut microbiome occurs at birth.10,11 Delivery type—vaginal or cesarean—strongly influences how the gut microbiome develops.10-12
The gut microbiome of a newborn who was delivered vaginally is initially populated with the commensal vaginal and fecal microbiota of the mother.11,12 In contrast, after cesarean delivery, the gut microbiome is primarily colonized by the mother's skin microbes.10,12
Differences in gut microbial composition based on delivery type can be seen for up to seven years. Although a causative link has not yet been established, differences associated with cesarean delivery have been connected to the development of certain childhood autoimmune diseases, including11:
Additional factors that affect the development and colonization of the gut microbiome early in life include10-12:
In three years, the composition of a child's gut microbiome resembles that of an adult's.12
A healthy gut microbiome is relatively stable and resistant to disturbances.6,13 However, shifts in microbial composition can occur over time due to5,9,14:
Adapted, with permission, from: Tanaka M, Nakayama J. Development of the gut microbiota in infancy and its impact on health in later life. Allergol Int. 2017;66: 515-522.
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