Article Text

Original research
Influence of timing of maternal antibiotic administration during caesarean section on infant microbial colonisation: a randomised controlled trial


Objective Revised guidelines for caesarean section (CS) advise maternal antibiotic administration prior to skin incision instead of after umbilical cord clamping, unintentionally exposing the infant to antibiotics antenatally. We aimed to investigate if timing of intrapartum antibiotics contributes to the impairment of microbiota colonisation in CS born infants.

Design In this randomised controlled trial, women delivering via CS received antibiotics prior to skin incision (n=20) or after umbilical cord clamping (n=20). A third control group of vaginally delivering women (n=23) was included. Faecal microbiota was determined from all infants at 1, 7 and 28 days after birth and at 3 years by 16S rRNA gene sequencing and whole-metagenome shotgun sequencing.

Results Compared with vaginally born infants, profound differences were found in microbial diversity and composition in both CS groups in the first month of life. A decreased abundance in species belonging to the genera Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium was found with a concurrent increase in members belonging to the phylum Proteobacteria. These differences could not be observed at 3 years of age. No statistically significant differences were observed in taxonomic and functional composition of the microbiome between both CS groups at any of the time points.

Conclusion We confirmed that microbiome colonisation is strongly affected by CS delivery. Our findings suggest that maternal antibiotic administration prior to CS does not result in a second hit on the compromised microbiome. Future, larger studies should confirm that antenatal antibiotic exposure in CS born infants does not aggravate colonisation impairment and impact long-term health.

  • antibiotics
  • intestinal microbiology
  • infant gut
  • paediatric gastroenterology

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. The study protocol was published online (doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3552-8.). The generated raw sequence datasets and deidentified participant data is available on reasonable request from the corresponding author TD.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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