The Bugs of Our Mothers

Once we thought that placentas, amniotic cavities and the breast milk were sterile. But in fact Texan researchers have shown that being fed by our mother in fetal and infant life also showers us in bacteria and likely viruses as well. Whether this is an inevitable consequence of life on earth or an important symbiotic factor in our long term health remains to be determined, and will be the focus of future research. We have now dubbed the genetic make up of the bacteria that live with us our 'second genome.' The restoration of gut flora is critical in the heath of those with bowel disease that has destroyed their gut bacterial balance, and perhaps restoration of proper fetal flora will be important. Literature like this makes your gyno pause when she thinks about what and if to prescribe antibiotics during pregnancy, but then we have known for a long time to trust our immune systems before indiscriminately prescribing antibiotics.

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