The vaginal microbiota of an expectant mom experiencing stress may be affected during her first trimester. Some emotions could trigger changes in the way her baby’s gut health and brain develop, according to a recent study appearing in the medical journal Endocrinology.
“As the [newborn’s] gut is initially populated by the maternal vaginal microbiota, changes produced by maternal stress can alter this initial microbial population as well as determine many aspects of the host’s immune system that are also established during this early period,” says Dr. Tracy Bale, senior author of the study and a professor of neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and its School of Veterinary Medicine, via a press release.
Researchers tested their theory by exposing pregnant mice to various stressors, including unique noises, odors of established predators and restraints, during the animal’s equivalent of their first trimester.
Shortly after giving birth, scientists examined the vaginal microbiota of the mothers along with the gut microbiota from their offspring. Additionally, they examined how amino acids travel in the brains of pups to measure development and metabolism.
Exposure to stressors had lasting effects on the vaginal microbiota of pregnant mice that were observed, not only in the gut microbiota, but in the metabolism and neurodevelopment of their babies too.
Neurodevelopment issues were most pronounced among males, a finding Dr. Bale and her colleagues discovered in a prior study. These alterations could be a sign of serious neurological disorders to come like schizophrenia and autism, conditions that affect males far more often.
Scientists also conducted a supplemental experiment that showed how important it is for moms to deliver their babies vaginally. Baby mice born via C-section had their gut microbiomes restored to those of vaginally-delivered offspring only after receiving transplants from the vaginal microbiomes of female mice.
Despite the challenges new moms face by delivering their babies via C-section, there’s growing evidence that giving newborns a probiotic could enhance their developing gut health and lessen problems with colic.
When shopping for the right probiotic for your young child, consider EndoMune Junior, which contains important building blocks such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.