Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Department

W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department

Biology

Reader 1

Emily Wiley

Reader 2

Bryan Thines

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Rights Information

© 2014 Christina Kang

Abstract

Since the 1970s, the United States has encountered an increasing proportion of Cesarean deliveries (CS), surpassing the advised 10-15% maximum rate established in 1985 by the World Health Organization (World Health Organization, 1985). This increasing rate has fueled correlational and causational studies observing the impact of Cesarean delivery on several aspects of infant health. Previous studies on CS infants have observed a delay in gut colonization by beneficial bacteria – for instance Bifidobacteria – traditionally transmitted from the mother’s gut and vaginal microbiome as other environmental factors have influenced the initial microflora (Biasucci et al., 2010; Dong, Yang, & Wang, 2010; Penders et al., 2006). In addition, an increasing proportion of births are occurring within a home setting, providing an opportunity to study how these possible environmental factors may influence bacterial colonization. This initial gastrointestinal colonization is considered one of the most important factors towards immune system development and general health. This thesis proposes an examination of how the mode and setting of delivery influence the diversity of Bifidobacterium species in infants’ initial gut microbiomes. Additionally, while several studies have examined the impact of specific bacterial species on immune system development, this study will provide an approach to understanding how differences in the overall gastrointestinal (GI) ecologies of CS and vaginal delivery (VD) infants impact immune system development.

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