It has long been thought that the mothers’ womb is a sterile environment. However, new findings are showing that a baby is first exposed to microbes in utero. The bacteria of a placenta is similar to that of the mother’s mouth, which is thought to be passed to the baby from foods consumed by the mother. Bacteria present in a mother’s mouth may have a impact on her baby’s future health and immunity.
“The scientists collected samples of 320 placentas of women that had given birth. To avoid contamination by vaginal bacteria, samples were harvested under sterile conditions. Then, they sequenced the genomes of the bacteria found in the samples. They expected to find bacteria from the vaginal flora, due to its proximity, but instead, the microbes were similar to those found in the mouth, however in much lower abundance.
The authors of the study suggest that oral bacteria may find their way to the placenta in some unknown manner, presumably via the blood steam. Once the bacteria are in the placenta, they may also jump to the baby, maybe through the amniotic fluid. Since babies swallow a lot of amniotic fluid, those bacteria would be the first to colonize the baby’s body. Specifically, they would reach the gut and, once there, they would start to make up the baby’s gut microbiota, the collection of microbes that perform crucial functions for digestion, immunity and even mental health.” (source)