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EBioMedicine. 2014 Dec 1;1(2-3):167-172.

Diversity and composition of the adult fecal microbiome associated with history of cesarean birth or appendectomy: Analysis of the American Gut Project.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892 USA.



Cesarean birth is associated with altered composition of the neonate's microbiota and with increased risk for obesity and other diseases later in life. The mechanisms of these associations, and whether cesarean birth is associated with an altered adult microbiota, are unknown.


In 1097 adult volunteers without diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or recent antibiotic use, fecal microbiome metrics were compared by history of cesarean birth (N=92) or appendectomy (N=115). Associations with potential confounders, microbiome alpha diversity, and individual microbial taxa were estimated by logistic regression. Permutation tests assessed differences in microbial composition (beta diversity) based on Jensen-Shannon divergence.


Cesarean birth history was associated with younger age; appendectomy with older age and higher body mass index. Neither was associated with fecal microbiome alpha diversity. Microbial composition at all taxonomic levels differed significantly with cesarean birth (P≤0.008) but not with appendectomy (P≥0.29). Relative abundance differed nominally for 17 taxa with cesarean birth and for 22 taxa with appendectomy, none of which was significant with adjustment for multiple comparisons.


Adults born by cesarean section appear to have a distinctly different composition of their fecal microbial population. Whether this distinction was acquired during birth, and whether it affects risk of disease during adulthood, are unknown.


Human microbiome; adults; appendectomy history; birth history; cesarean section; feces

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