Antibiotics administered during labor delay healthy gut bacteria in babies

November 28, 2017
Streptococcus bacteria
Streptococcus bacteria (red spheres in chains) adhering to collagen fibres. Credit: A. Nobbs

Antibiotics administered during labour for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) affect the development of gut bacteria in babies, according to a study from McMaster University.

The research showed that babies exposed to the for GBS during labour had a delay in the maturation of their , known as microbiota. The data also showed that this delay increased with longer durations of exposure to the antibiotics.

While the effects of antibiotics for GBS on the gut bacteria in babies was dramatic at early time points, they largely disappeared by 12 weeks of age.

The results were published today in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Early life microbial colonization and succession is critically important to healthy development, with impacts on metabolic and immunologic processes throughout life," said Jennifer Stearns, the study's first author, an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and a scientist of the University's Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute.

One out of every three or four pregnant women test positive for Group B Streptococcus during routine screening and the majority choose to receive antibiotic prophylaxis during labour to prevent GBS transmission to their infant at birth. Infant infections can lead to serious illness including meningitis and death in a very small number of infants, and antibiotic treatment is an important prevention strategy.

"Our research indicates there is a delay in the expansion of the dominant infant gut colonizer, called Bifidobacterium, when infants are exposed to antibiotics for GBS prevention during vaginal labour," said Stearns.

"It's a good sign that bacterial groups recover by 12 weeks but it's still unclear what these findings mean for infant health, especially since early infancy is such an important developmental time."

The study utilized data from 74 mother-infant pairs in the McMaster pilot cohort called Baby & Mi. Participants came from low-risk populations in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario.

The gut bacteria development of the was tested at four points over the first 12 weeks of life, including at three days, 10 days, six weeks and 12 weeks.

The babies were healthy, full-term, breast-fed babies predominantly born vaginally, with a small percentage born by C-section that were also exposed to antibiotics to prevent surgical infection. As in previous studies, babies born by C-section had delayed expansion of the key gut colonizer compared to born vaginally without exposure.

Researchers at McMaster are using this study as a launching point for further research using the Baby & Mi cohort.

"A larger study is underway that will determine the long-term consequences of antibiotics administered during labour for GBS on both microbial succession and on health and disease risk," said Stearns. "This will help us explore in greater depth the influence of maternal and infant variables on the infant gut microbiome."

Explore further: Influence of C-section, formula feeding and antibiotics on infant gut microbiome

Related Stories

Influence of C-section, formula feeding and antibiotics on infant gut microbiome

September 26, 2017
A new analytical approach, described in open-access journal Frontiers in Pediatrics, shows how different interventions - cesarean section, formula feeding, and antibiotics - can alter an infant's developing gut microbiome.

Women in preterm labour to be offered antibiotics to combat Group B Strep

September 18, 2017
Women who go into labour before 37 weeks of pregnancy should be offered antibiotics to prevent a possible transmission of Group B Streptococcal (GBS), according to updated guidance published by the Royal College of Obstetricians ...

Helping preemies avoid unnecessary antibiotics

October 5, 2017
(HealthDay)—Researchers say they have identified three criteria that suggest an extremely premature infant has a low risk of developing sepsis, which might allow doctors to spare these babies early exposure to antibiotics.

Group B Streptococcus infection causes estimated 150,000 stillbirth, infant death

November 6, 2017
An estimated one in five pregnant women around the world carry Group B Streptococcus (GBS) bacteria which is a major, yet preventable, cause of maternal and infant ill health globally.

Ethnicity and breastfeeding influence infant gut bacteria

June 1, 2017
The bacteria in a child's gut appears to be influenced as early as its first year by ethnicity and breastfeeding, according to a new study from McMaster University.

Antibiotic overload a concern for Aussie kids

August 3, 2017
A new study has found that half of Australian infants are treated with antibiotics during their first year of life – one of the highest rates in the world.

Recommended for you

Higher blood sugar in early pregnancy raises baby's heart-defect risk

December 15, 2017
Higher blood sugar early in pregnancy raises the baby's risk of a congenital heart defect, even among mothers who do not have diabetes, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Injuries from window blinds send two children to the emergency department every day

December 11, 2017
Most homes have them. They help keep our rooms warm or cold and even add a pop of color to tie the décor together. But window blinds can cause serious injuries or even death to young children. A new study from the Center ...

Blood flow altered in brains of preterm newborns vs. full-term infants

December 4, 2017
Cerebral blood flow (CBF) of key regions of newborns' brains is altered in very premature infants and may provide an early warning sign of disturbed brain maturation well before such injury is visible on conventional imaging, ...

HPV vaccine is effective, safe 10 years after it's given

November 29, 2017
A decade of data on hundreds of boys and girls who received the HPV vaccine indicates the vaccine is safe and effective long term in protecting against the most virulent strains of the virus, researchers report.

Antibiotics administered during labor delay healthy gut bacteria in babies

November 28, 2017
Antibiotics administered during labour for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) affect the development of gut bacteria in babies, according to a study from McMaster University.

Stress in pregnancy linked to changes in infant's nervous system, less smiling, less resilience

November 23, 2017
Maternal stress during the second trimester of pregnancy may influence the nervous system of the developing child, both before and after birth, and may have subtle effects on temperament, resulting in less smiling and engagement, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.