Antibiotics administered during labor delay healthy gut bacteria in babies

November 28, 2017, McMaster University
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

Self-control and obesity: Gender matters in children

July 16, 2018
A toddler's self-regulation—the ability to change behavior in different social situations—may predict whether he or she will be obese come kindergarten, but the connection appears to be much different for girls than for ...

Footwear habits influence child and adolescent motor skill development

July 11, 2018
New research finds that children and adolescents who spend most of their time barefoot develop motor skills differently from those who habitually wear shoes. Published in Frontiers in Pediatrics, this is the first study to ...

Parents who had severe trauma, stresses in childhood more likely to have kids with behavioral health problems

July 9, 2018
A new study finds that severe childhood trauma and stresses early in parents' lives are linked to higher rates of behavioral health problems in their own children.

Study finds that babies introduced to solids early slept longer and woke less frequently

July 9, 2018
A study by King's College London and St George's University of London has found that babies introduced to solid foods early, slept longer, woke less frequently at night and suffered fewer serious sleep problems, than those ...

Rare pediatric skin conditions often get expensive, inconsistent care

July 9, 2018
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago are the first to conduct a large-scale analysis of treatments and outcomes for children with Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), rare ...

Child passport photographs ineffective for reliable identification at borders: study

July 6, 2018
Passport style photographs are not a reliable way to validate a child's identity at border control or in child protection cases, according to a new study into the facial identification of infants.

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.