The effect of microbiome exposure at birth on pediatric outcomes using a twin cohort discordant for microbiome exposure at birth

Kelly B. Zafman, Eric P. Bergh, Natalie Cohen, Elizabeth Odom, Nathan S. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Microbiome exposure at birth has been associated with long-term pediatric outcomes. However, it is difficult to determine if differences in outcomes are truly due to microbiome exposure at birth or other exposures after birth and in early infancy. Using a twin cohort, we sought to determine the association between length of exposure to the maternal vaginal-fecal microbiome and long-term pediatric health outcomes by comparing outcomes between presenting and nonpresenting twins born to women who labored. Methods: We performed a mail-based survey study of women in a single maternal-fetal medicine practice who delivered twin pregnancies ≥24 weeks. The survey study was sent to women when twins were between 2 and 10 years old to assess the long-term health outcomes, including any medical diagnoses or problems with grown and development. For this study, we included all women who labored, and we compared health outcomes for the presenting versus nonpresenting twin with the primary outcome being the development of asthma/reactive airway disease and allergies. The length of exposure to the maternal vaginal-fecal microbiome was measured using the time from rupture of membranes (ROM) to delivery of each twin. Chi-square and Student’s t-test were used. Results: Two hundred fifty-seven sets of twins were eligible for analyses. The presenting twin had a longer time of ROM than the nonpresenting twin (617 ± 2408 min versus 2 ± 5 minutes, p <.001). There were no significant differences between health outcomes for the presenting versus nonpresenting twin in the overall cohort, including the development of asthma/reactive airway disease (9.3 versus 10.1%, p =.77) or allergies (12.5 versus 7.8%, p =.08). There were no differences in any outcomes when comparing the presenting versus nonpresenting twin for those twins delivered vaginally or by cesarean delivery. Conclusion: In twins born to women who labored and either delivered vaginally or via cesarean section, delivery order was not associated with any significant increase in defined adverse pediatric outcomes, including the development of asthma or allergies. Using twins as a model for microbiome exposure may help to elucidate the role of the maternal vaginal-fecal microbiome on long-term pediatric health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3355-3361
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine
Volume34
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Microbiome
  • pediatric allergies
  • pediatric asthma
  • pediatric outcomes
  • twins

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