The early-life microbiome appears to be affected by mode of delivery, but this effect may depend on intrapartum antibiotic exposure. Here, we assess the effect of delivery mode on gut microbiota, independent of intrapartum antibiotics, by postponing routine antibiotic administration to mothers until after cord clamping in 74 vaginally delivered and 46 caesarean section born infants. The microbiota differs between caesarean section born and vaginally delivered infants over the first year of life, showing enrichment of Bifidobacterium spp., and reduction of Enterococcus and Klebsiella spp. in vaginally delivered infants. The microbiota composition at one week of life is associated with the number of respiratory infections over the first year. The taxa driving this association are more abundant in caesarean section born children, providing a possible link between mode of delivery and susceptibility to infectious outcomes.
Here, in a cohort of infants unexposed to maternal antibiotics, the authors analyse the gut microbiome development of children born naturally and by caesarean section, finding a higher abundance of known pathogens in the latter group, and an association between these bacteria and a higher incidence of respiratory infections in the first year of life.