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Study: Babies gut bacteria is impacted by delivery method

A new study gives us some interesting findings.

Study: Babies gut bacteria is impacted by delivery method

There is a lot of talk online about the human microbiome (our gut bacteria)—and what impact exposure to mama's microbiome during birth can have on infants. Concerned parents may also have heard that early research showed that babies born via C-section didn't have the same "good" bacteria as those born vaginally.

A new large-scale study now gives us a better idea of what those differences actually are, and it's not what many assumed.

The results show that babies born via C-section do have different microbiomes than the vaginally delivered babies but the babies born vaginally and via C-section had about the same amount of Lactobacillus bacteria, with the vaginal canal. What the vaginal babies did have in greater abundance was Bacteroides bacteria, which means the difference is in exposure from the perineum, not the vaginal canal.

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According to the researchers, vaginally born babies got most of their gut bacteria from their mother while c-section babies instead had more bacteria associated with hospital environments.

In a study published last month in the journal Nature, researchers compared the gut microbiomes of nearly 600 babies when they were 4, 7, and 21 days old, and again when they were about a year old. Known as the Baby Biome Study it was the largest one conducted on newborns' microbiome to date. The researchers found that vaginal seeding is unlikely to have the impact parents are aiming for. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists advises against this procedure because we still lack proof it's safe and effective, and the researchers behind this study don't recommend it either.

"The results suggest that swabbing vaginal bacteria is unlikely to change the baby's gut microbiome," the study's authors state in an FAQ. The good news from this research is that a year after their birth, the differences in microbiomes disappeared between the two groups of babies.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said pregnant women should not let this study deter them from following medical advice to have a C-section and researchers will continue to investigate how the microbiome impacts infant immune systems. "Further studies will help us understand the role of gut bacteria in early life and could help us develop therapeutics to create a healthy microbiome," Peter Brocklehurst, a professor at the University of Birmingham and the study's principal investigator, told the Telegraph.

[Correction, November 7, 2019: A previous version of this post suggested there's no big difference in baby's gut bacteria between C-sections and vaginal births. There is a difference, but they are largely evened out by 1 year old.]

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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