A new study indicates that the choice many new parents make whether to breast feed their baby or not could have far more impacts than just the typical intelligence hit that many already know.

Researchers at the University of Alberta have published a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that compared the types of gut bacteria in babies that were born by caesarian section or natural birth and those that were breast fed and babies that were fed formula. 24 babies from Canada who were 4 months of age had their gut microbiome (the bacteria in their intestinal tract) sequenced to determine what species resided in their digestive tract.

Many recent lines of thought and research have indicated that an imbalance in gut bacteria may be detrimental for health and that overuse of antibiotics can harm that balance. Such perturbations can lead to the possibility of becoming ill from C. Diff or may make people more susceptible to autoimmune diseases.

Babies born vaganally had more diverse flora than those born by c-section and had high numbers of Shigella and Bacteroides species, first colonizers that are important in intestinal health.

The study found that babies who breast fed had a less diverse bacterial groupings than those that were bottle fed. This is misleading, because those that were bottle fed had higher rates of researchers finding C. Diff and other disease causing bacteria, in their stool.

Around 1/3 of all births in the United States are c-sections and carry an unneeded risk to the mother and child. Yet the risk may carry through the life of the child, having not picked up valuable bacterial species during vaginal birth.

Breastfeeding has seen a resurgence, with reports indicating that children that are breastfed have a higher IQ than those fed formula.

The researchers hope to begin a new study with 200 infants and determine the changes in their gut microbiome after 1 year of different feeding methods.

The report can be found in the Canadian Medical Association Journal Here