Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences




The purpose of this paper is to delve into the maternal influence on the offspring microbiome, and how maternal lifestyle factors and choices; mode of birth, feeding method, stress and the interventions used to alleviate said stress, maternal age, substance use, exercise, and nutrition, alter the microbiome and therefore affect the neurodevelopment of the offspring. The human microbiome is composed of billions of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that occupy the gut, skin and other areas of the body. Numerous studies have illustrated the importance of the microbiome in healthy human physiologic processes including energy metabolism, gut health, immune function and neurobehavioral development. Furthermore, the relationships between the gut microbiota and the brain have been increasingly studied to try to identify correlations between digestive health and emotional and behavioral health. Jasarevic et al. (2015) established the vertical transmission of the maternal vaginal microbiome through vaginal delivery, and Moya-Pérez et al. (2017) discussed the disruption in offspring gut microbiota due to cesarean delivery. Due to this relationship between the maternal and offspring microbiome, and the consequences of the microbiome composition on neural development, mitigating situations that would lead to detrimental effects on the development of the offspring is of immense importance. To conduct this review, databases such as PubMed were utilized to find papers investigating maternal factors and behaviors that affect the microbiome and how the microbiome alters neurodevelopment. It is expected that this review will illustrate a mechanism for changes to the normal neurodevelopment of offspring caused by pre and post-natal maternal behaviors.