“The Microbiome” – with Dr. Shari Gelber

Dr. Shari Gelber, an OBGYN with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City, discusses the microbiome and concerns that new parents may have regarding this topic. The microbiome, or the bacteria that exist all over and inside the body, play a large role in our health. Dr. Gelber shares her knowledge on the microbiome and her professional opinion on “seeding,” a practice thought to improve a newborn’s microbiome.  

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The microbiome is composed of the bacteria that exist all over and inside the body. Dr. Shari Gelber, an OBGYN, shares her thoughts on the microbiome, including the potential health consequences of taking antibiotics or using antibacterial soap, and the microbiome of the vagina and newborns.  

Before they are born, babies are in a sterile environment, meaning there are no bacteria present. During a vaginal delivery, babies begin developing their microbiome by coming into contact with the bacteria present in the mother’s vagina. Of course, this does not occur when babies are born via a Caesarean delivery, for example. There is a concern that this is the reason that there is a correlation between babies delivered by Caesarean and asthma, obesity, or other health complications later in life.  

Because of this, a practice known as “seeding” is sometimes performed in order to introduce the mother’s microbiome to the baby. Dr. Gelber explains why this is not recommended by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and that additional research on this practice is necessary before it can be proven safe or effective. Dr. Gelber and Dr. Fox explain the methodology behind such a medical study and association compared to causation.  

Dr. Shari Gelber is a board certified OBGYN with subspecialty training in Maternal Fetal Medicine who works with Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates in New York City. Dr. Gelber received a B.S. in Biological Sciences from Stanford University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees in Neurobiology and Behavior from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons before completing clinical training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Drexel University College of Medicine and a fellowship in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Cornell University Medical College. Her research interests include the origin of spontaneous and indicated preterm birth, and she contributed to the discovery and characterization of the novel toxin Gardnerella vaginalis. Dr. Gelber joined the MFMA team in 2018. Prior to that, she practiced Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Cornell University Medical College for 10 years.