The small organisms (microbiome) present in our gut play a major role in health and disease, primarily because they work closely with our immune system.
The first allergen encounter occurs early in life, which is also a critical period where the microbiome develops from birth onwards. One of the major disturbances that affects the microbiome-immune interaction is exposure to antibiotics. Indeed, antibiotics kill some bacteria, allowing others to take over and cause harm to the immune system. The rippling effect is significant, with in turn immune cells reacting “abnormally” to airborne or food components (antigens) triggering the allergic response. Once these responses are in place, they become irreversible and tend to progress in severity over time.
Thousands of low-risk mothers and babies are exposed to antibiotics each year prior to planned caesarean delivery. C-sections are a known risk factor for allergy, believed to reduce the amount of microorganisms babies are exposed to during delivery.
However, antibiotics have a disrupting effect that lasts 6-months following exposure. This project is a feasibility study to determine the impact of antibiotics and placebo on the infant microbiome and allergy onset following caesarean delivery.
This project is co-directed by A/Prof Severine Navarro and A/Prof Victoria Eley, anaesthetist at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Brisbane in collaboration with Prof Leonie Callaway.