Placenta is assumed to be the most sterile environment, protecting the unborn baby from bacteria present in the mother's body. However a new study conducted by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston reveal that bacteria is present in the placenta and it has an impact on the health of the baby.
The researchers analyzed material derived from over 320 placentas and after processing them through shotgun metagenomic sequencing, they were able to identify a very small but diverse community of bacteria living in the placenta.
AdvertisementThe researchers said that the bacteria were similar to those found in the mouth, rather than in other places such as vaginal or intestinal microbiomes. They added that the bacteria could influence the health of the newborn baby both during the pregnancy and in early life but admitted that more research is needed to determine how to take advantage of their findings. The study has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
"As we catch glimmers of the microbial biology of pregnancy, we can start to see a not-too-distant future where we will prevent preterm birth (or its complications in newborns) with truly novel approaches aimed at enhancing the healthy microbes of not just the vagina, but the mouth and gut. As we unravel the mysteries of pregnancy, we are learning that our microbes may be as much friend as foe. That is fantastic news for our moms and their babies", the researchers wrote in their report.