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C-section babies need to be rubbed with mother's germs ... Post-birth 'probiotics' crucial for activating child's immune response

C-section birth

(NaturalNews) According to a recent study by New York University, babies born by C-section should be swabbed with their mother's germs; doctors think this procedure can replace "missing" bacteria that babies are normally exposed to during vaginal birth.

Sharing bacteria during surgery is normally something doctors would actively try to avoid, however the experiment involved giving babies born by C-section a dose of protective germs from mom's birth canal.

It is thought that C-section babies have a greater risk of developing asthma, allergies and other health conditions, and this lack of exposure to microbes could explain why.

C-section babies miss out on certain important bugs

Scientists suspect that babies who haven't been exposed to particular bugs during a natural vaginal birth will suffer consequences later in life. This study shows that it might be possible to at least partially expose C-section babies to the missing microbes by simply swabbing them with vaginal fluid from their mother within two minutes of birth.

This particular study was very small, comparing only seven babies born vaginally with 11 born by C-section, four of whom were given a dose of their mother's bacteria. Over the following month, researchers took samples from all over their bodies to examine how the microbiomes were developing. They found that the four babies who were exposed to their mother's microbes were more similar to those babies born via vaginal birth than to the other babies born by C-section.

Two particular bacteria species are thought to play a huge role in training the immune systems of babiesLactobacillus and Bacteroides. These were almost completely absent in the untreated C-section babies, however were found in those that had been exposed to the mothers' vaginal fluids.

How else do C-sections affect the health of babies?

Recently the U.S. cesarean birth rate decreased for the first time in over a decade, but it is still true that one-in-three mothers gives birth by cesarean – with scheduled C-sections increasing for non-medical reasons. But doctors are warning that surgical births without labor have impacts on the health of newborn babies.

Babies born by C-section are at a higher risk of health complications than those who are born vaginally, especially if the mother did not go into labor. C-section babies are more likely to have difficulty breathing on their own due to being born preterm, before their lungs have fully developed. Respiratory complications can be serious enough to require intensive care after birth.

Many C-sections are scheduled before the natural due date, and there is a margin of error in identifying fetal maturity. Being born only one week too early can make a huge difference in terms of complications, including long-term illness and disability if born with a low birth weight.

With a cesarean, mothers and babies have less skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth – which has several adaptive benefits for the newborn baby. Pain medications that are used to sedate the mother are thought to affect the newborn's ability to latch on and breastfeed; meanwhile, routine procedures that follow a cesarean such as suctioning can also make it more difficult for babies to breastfeed.

Further research is needed to prove whether or not this new exposure technique works, or in fact makes a difference to the health of C-section babies. The question as to whether exposure to bugs affects early microbiome development is just the start; scientists are looking to find out whether this translates to better health generally in the years that follow.

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