All babies are born germ-free with a sterile gut,and it is during birth when important bacteria are transmitted and start to colonize in the body.
Babies born via C-section don’t pass through the birth canal where they swallow all the good bacteria they need and as a result, tend to have less gut diversity and a lower range of good gut bacteria, than babies who are born vaginally and are exposed to beneficial bacteria from the get-go.
Studies have shown that babies born via C-section may be more likely to develop obesity, allergies, type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease later in life.
A 2013 Swedish study found that C-section babies had less gut diversity during the first two years of life than babies delivered vaginally. They found that C-section babies were lacking in certain bacteria, which helps the immune system respond to the right triggers. These bacteria would have been found in the birth canal and swallowed at birth.
Just as C-section babies are at a disadvantage of receiving the good bacteria, the same thing happens with non-breastfed babies.
When a baby is not breastfed there are significant differences that exist in the gut microbiota of babies that are exclusively breastfed.
Exclusive breastfeeding helps a baby to develop a healthy and diverse gut microbiome with beneficial nutrients, including microbes that are crucial for proper growth and development.
Formula can’t provide a baby with the added protection against infection and illness that breast milk does as none of the antibodies found in breast milk are manufactured in formula.