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Maternal transmission of microbiome

Author(s): Tamar Goulet1, Sharon Maureen Homer-Drummond2

1. University of Mississippi 2. Tri-County Technical College

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Understanding the cascading effects of the transfer of maternal microbiome during a vaginal birth (vs. a c-section) to the well-being of a newborn.

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 20 Feb 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4CH5T - cite this


Students struggle with synthesizing multiple pieces of information into one comprehensive evaluation of a problem and the numerous ramifications. This activity is meant to illustrate the multi-facet issues, and multisystem consequences, of vaginal versus cesarean section delivery of a baby to the baby’s health. The human microbiome is initially acquired via vaginal birth. A c-section circumvents this process, but intervention can restore microbiome acquisition. 

The activity takes one class period. It occurs towards the end of the semester since the content requires a synthesis of the effects of maternal transmission of gut microbiome on multiple organ systems. In most introductory textbooks, human reproduction is one of, if not the last chapter. Hence, this activity would fit well with the human reproduction chapter in an introductory biology course. The focus is on synthesizing and understanding the cascading effects of the human microbiome on human health and how humans acquire a healthy human biome.

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