How does a C-section affect a child’s microbiome?

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Cesarean Sections & Children’s Microbiata

Research shows that how you stick your head (or feet!) into the world for the first time has a great impact on your health and development.

In a natural vaginal birth, babies get a vital dose of important bacteria from their mothers’ vagina and feces, which interact with their immune system in the newborn’s gut, skin and lungs.

Babies that are born via Cesarean section miss out on this load of vaginal and fecal microbes and get colonized by other types of microbes. The microbiome of C-section-delivered children eventually looks like the microbiome of vaginally-delivered babies but those initial changes may have consequences in the development. This is thought to result in a significant increased risk for obesity, asthma, allergies and other diseases later in life.

This is not to say that C-sections are not necessary or life-saving in many cases (about 10% of women need them medically), but there is a significant difference in those early life microbes that is hard to dispute.  Because of this breastfeeding can be even more important for C-section babies and their microbiomes. Research is also being conducted into somewhat controversial procedures like vaginal seeding and probiotics to determine their effectiveness to boost a baby’s immune system after birth by Cesarean. We still do not know if these work or not.


Photo credit: @apsprudente on Unsplash

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