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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1803-1811
Number of pages9
Issue number9
Early online date18 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • antibiotics
  • infant gut
  • intestinal microbiology
  • paediatric gastroenterology

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