Whether we believe in a Supreme Being loading our digestive system with health-giving, good bacteria, or not, the image could just as aptly have been a mother-to-be giving her baby good bacteria.
Though, for centuries the prevailing belief was that a mother’s womb was sterile. The microbial populations found in babies were attributed to their contact with the birth canal. Plus, it was shown that babies who entered the world by natural childbirth had the same kinds of microbes as their mothers while babies born by cesarean section had microbes similar to those identified in hospitals. (After about a year, the microbe populations become very similar.)
Then, in 2011, Indira Mysorekar, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis, focused research on 195 placentas from a single hospital. In 26% of full term births there were diverse bacteria in the cells on the maternal side of the placenta, while in 54% of preterm births there were bacteria in the cells on the mothers’ side of the placenta.
Not surprisingly, there was an, “Oh! Oh!” reaction to the idea that bacteria could be causing preterm births.
Following the alarm, researchers found a pathogenic bacteria, Streptococcus agalactiae, in placentas of infants with neonatal sepsis, an uncommon blood infection in an infant younger than 90 days.
While there was a willingness to accept the fact of a bad bacteria, the overall view of the sterile placenta prevailed. The idea was that if bacterial DNA was found in placentas, then obviously there had been contamination.
But, Kent Willis, Assistant Professor of Neonatology, University of Tennessee, and his colleagues, collected samples of meconium, the tar-like material babies pass within a day or two of birth, from 37 mature-term babies born after 37 weeks of pregnancy and samples from 34 preterm babies.
Willis and colleagues grew microorganisms from the meconium in an airless environment mimicking that of the gut, then catagorized the microbes according to their DNA.
To their surprise they found microbal DNA in nearly all the babies – even preterm infants born after 23 instead of the normal 40 weeks of pregnancy.
The differences in gut bacteria and fungi between preterm and term babies were very consistent and stark. It was possible to accurately predict whether the meconium sample came from a baby that was full-term or premature. Read more.
The gradual increase in the amount and kinds of microbe, depending on how long the baby stayed inside the mother before birth, supports the idea that colonization by microbes is a natural process and that microbes slowly and steadily accumulate in the fetus during pregnancy.
After birth the good, health protecting microbes face the danger of glyphosate, RoundUp’s main herbicide, in mothers’ breast milk and in trusted baby food brands.
For instance a study reported by Sustainable Pulse in 2014 found levels of glyphosate in American women’s breast milk that were 760 to 1600 times higher than levels found in that of European women. “The shocking results point to glyphosate levels building up in women’s bodies over a period of time,” wrote Sustainable Pulse.
Herbicide Discovered in U.S. Mothers’ Breast Milk
Monsanto, the original developer of RoundUp, and RoundUp’s current owner, Bayer, have scientists who say glyphosate does not build up and is safe. A closer look at the corporate studies, however, shows that tests beyond three months duration were not conducted… perhaps because after three months accumulation would have been hard to deny.
Arnie Levin drew the original, which I adapted.