A mother’s diet during pregnancy might play a role in the makeup of her child’s gut microbiome, according to research published in Microbiome.
Sara N. Lundgren, of the department of epidemiology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and colleagues found that an increase in foods like fruit, red meat or diary in a mother’s diet can impact their baby’s microbiome, as can the method of delivery.
“We analyzed infants delivered vaginally and by cesarean section in separate groups due to our previous knowledge of the transfer of maternal microbiota to the infant that occurs during vaginal delivery, but not with cesarean section delivery,” Lundgren said in a press release. “We expected results to differ based on delivery mode, but we were surprised to find that the abundances of some microbes were increased in association with maternal intake of a food group in one delivery mode group but decreased in the other delivery mode group.”
To explore the association between a mother’s diet during pregnancy and an infant’s gut microbiome, Lundgren and colleagues analyzed data collected from 145 pairs of mothers and infants enrolled in the New Hampshire Birth Cohort Study. They tested stool samples taken from the infants 6 weeks after their birth and assessed maternal diet using food frequency questionnaires.
Investigators found three clusters of microbes in the 97 babies delivered vaginally. Cluster 1 had high abundance of Bifidobacterium, cluster 2 had high abundance of both Streptococcus and Clostridium, and cluster 3 had high abundance of Bacteroides. The 48 babies born by cesarean section had different clusters, with cluster 1 characterized by high abundance of Bifidobacterium, cluster 2 with high Clostridium but low Streptococcus, and cluster 3 with a high abundance of Enterobacteriaceae.
Infants born vaginally were more likely to be in microbe cluster 2 group if their mother had an additional serving of fruit per day (OR = 2.73; 95% CI, 1.36–5.46). The likelihood of children delivered by cesarean section being in cluster 2 increased with each additional serving of dairy per day (OR = 2.36; 95% CI, 1.05–5.3).
Researchers also found decreased levels of Bifidobacterium in children delivered vaginally if their mothers ate more fruit, while finding increased levels in children born by cesarean section to mothers who ate more red and processed meats.
“Our study demonstrates an association of a readily modifiable factor, maternal diet, with the infant gut microbiome,” Lundgren said in the press release. “This knowledge may be key for developing evidence-based dietary recommendations for pregnant and lactating women.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.