Maternal Microbiome Legacy Project


Principal Investigator: Dr. Deborah Money

Primary Contact: Zahra Pakzad, Research Coordinator, 604-875-2424 ext. 6379,

About the study: The role of bacterial communities throughout the body in health and disease is being widely studied. Preliminary research shows a possible link between delivery type (vaginal or caesarean delivery) and the bacterial communities found in the gut in early infancy. In Canada 1 in 4 women have a caesarean delivery and there is some evidence of increased risk of conditions such as asthma, celiac disease, and allergies in caesarean-born infants. To date no cause for this increased risk has been identified. Some researchers have proposed that this potential transfer of maternal vaginal bacteria may be prevented by a caesarean delivery. This may result in altering the establishment of the infant’s own bacterial community. However a clear link between delivery type and the infant’s bacterial community has not been established.

This study will use advanced gene-based methods to profile the bacterial communities present in women who deliver vaginally or via caesarean section and connect these to the infant gut bacterial community in the first 3 months of life. This research will lead to a deeper understanding of the potential role of the maternal bacterial community on the infant gut bacterial community

Why is this research important? The practice of “vaginal seeding” has emerged, where a newborn delivered via caesarean section is swabbed with the mother’s vaginal secretions to transfer the mother’s vaginal bacteria to the infant, mimicking what the infant would have been exposed to during vaginal birth. However the benefits of “vaginal seeding” have not been evaluated and the safety of this practice has not been proven despite it coming into clinical use. The goal of our study will be to determine if the maternal bacterial community is actually transferred to the infant during delivery and if the different types of deliveries alter this transfer.

Interested in ParticipatingFollow the link to the survey, to have us contact you.

Study status: Launching March 5, 2018.

Co-Investigators: Dr. Janet Hill (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. K.S. Joseph (University of British Columbia), Dr. Julie van Schalkwyk (University of British Columbia), Dr. Arianne Albert (B.C. Women’s Hospital, Vancouver), Dr. Chelsea Elwood (University of British Columbia), Dr. Soren Grantt (University  of British Columbia), Dr. Kirsten Grabowska (University of British Columbia), Dr. Jennifer Hutcheon (University of British Columbia), Dr. Matthew Links (University of Saskatchewan), Dr. Amee Manges (University of British Columbia), Dr. Sheona Mitchell (University of British Columbia), Dr. Tim Dumonceaux (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan), Dr. Zoe Hodgson (B.C. Women’s Hospital), Dr. Janet Lyons (University of British Columbia).

Funded by: Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)


New $1.4 M CIHR Project Grant brings together three sites across the department to define the maternal legacy

Recruitment Materials:

  1. Recruitment Survey
  2. Recruitment Poster
  3. Recruitment Postcard