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A significant difference exists between the fecal microbiota of hospital-born infants versus home-born infants, and the differences persist well into the first month of life. The study included 35 vaginally born, breast-fed neonates, 14 who were delivered at home and 21 who were delivered in the hospital. Eight maternal and infant feces samples were collected, as well as maternal vaginal swabs, throughout the study over a 28-day period. Hospital-born infants had lower more desirable Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, and Lactobacillus, and higher less desirable Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae, than home-born babies. At 1-month of age, hospital-born infants possessed greater pro-inflammatory gene expression in colonic epithelial cells. Scientific Reports →Takeaway: Researchers conclude that hospitalization during birth, whether because of perinatal interventions or the hospital environment, may affect the vaginal microbiome and the initial microbiota colonization of the newborn during labor and delivery. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consider making arrangements to deliver in a birthing center or…

What you eat alters your genes and those of your children. A new study reviews maternal diets during pregnancy and how maternal nutrient status and intake can cause epigenetic (environmental effects on gene expression) changes that increase obesity risk and other disease risk in offspring. Frontiers in Genetics →Takeaway: Nutrition is THE most important environmental factor that can influence early fetal development. Through its ability to alter fetal epigenetic profiles, nutrition has “a profound impact on individual susceptibility to certain diseases or disorders in the offspring later in life.” The number one gift you can give your child in the womb is good nutrition. While healthy eating during pregnancy can be challenging, focusing on what you can ADD into your diet, as opposed to what you should CUT OUT, is helpful. Introduce lots of leafy greens daily as well as other fresh raw and cooked vegetables to crowd out undesirable foods. Interestingly, a…

A study using the Chinese baby birth cohort found that women who took progesterone before 14 weeks of gestation are at a higher risk of C-section and developing post-partum depression, with no actual reduction in preterm birth risk. Progesterone is a hormone used to reduce the risk of preterm birth, support the fertilization process, or to increase babies’ birth weight. In the study, progesterone was prescribed before 14 weeks gestation in 40% of those receiving the drug. Nature →Takeaway: Interestingly, a 2017 study also found that prenatal progesterone exposure may affect sexual orientation, resulting in higher rates of bisexuality. If you are looking to boost your progesterone levels during pregnancy choose these natural methods: maintain a healthy body weight, don’t over-exercise, reduce stress levels, incorporate acupuncture, consider taking chasteberry, and most importantly, consume fermented foods daily and a variety of vibrantly colored vegetables and fruits.

First results are in! Researchers using a birth-cohort of 33,000 Chinese babies have released impressive findings already, just 6 years after the start of the cohort. Scientists found that exposure to incense burning, a practice common in southern China, increases hypertension risk in pregnant mothers. Nature →Takeaway: Exposure to fumes and chemicals during pregnancy may be risky for both mothers and their progeny. A 2014 study also found that using air fresheners (specifically those containing phthalates – a chemical also found in flexible plastics) during pregnancy could result in lasting detrimental effects on offspring respiratory health. If you are looking to purify or freshen the air in your home, skip the incense and traditional air fresheners and consider these all-natural options, or this essential oil spray.

Weight gain and metabolic dysfunction in adulthood could be linked to maternal omega-3 fatty acid intake during gestation and lactation. A recent mouse study found that maternal PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) production during pregnancy and nursing significantly reduced weight gain and markers for metabolic dysfunction in male offspring fed a high fat diet. The study states that the fatty acid profile in maternal tissue has a profound influence on offspring gut microbiome composition and function, which is long lasting through adulthood. Interestingly, no correlation was found between maternal PUFA profiles and female offspring weight gain. The study also found that maternal fatty acid status influenced offspring metabolism and microbial composition more profoundly during lactation than in utero. Microbiome Journal →Takeaway: For those who are nursing, pregnant or wanting to get pregnant, omega-3 fatty acid intake is important. To be sure you’re consuming enough omega-3’s in your diet, focus on a plant-based diet rich…

Studies show that overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, but why? A recent study, looking at 935 mother-infant pairs, found that infants born vaginally to overweight mothers were 3 times more likely to be overweight by the age of 3 when compared to infants born from normal weight mothers. Those born via C-section from overweight mothers were 5 times more likely to be overweight. In normal weight mothers, birth mode made no difference in the risk of overweightness for their offspring. Scientists hypothesize that this increased risk of overweightness in offspring is due to alterations in gut bacteria, specifically an over-abundance in Lachnospiraceae. JAMA Pediatrics →Takeaway: While overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight children, whether born C-section or vaginally, it’s not all doom and gloom. Practicing a lifestyle that cultivates a balanced microbiome can help maintain healthy weight throughout life. Make a vaginal birth (if possible) and breastfeeding a…