The C-section or Cesarean section is an operation by which a surgeon incises the abdomen of a woman to help her deliver a baby. Today about 1/3 of the US women population give birth through C-section. There is no science that clearly shows the risk involved for the woman but most suggest that a woman should not have more that 3 C-sections in her life. For a woman who has already taken a C-section the next time she takes that operation again there might be more complications than the previous one. But there are other risks involved. One latest study shows that delivering a baby through C-section can have an effect on the baby’s health too.
The health of a new born baby will also depend on the type of bacteria found in its intestines. Doctors refer to it as the intestinal flora. There are also different bacteria found in the human body that play an important role in making sure that the immune system functions properly. Doctors call it the microbiome. A new study has shown that this microbiome can be negatively affected if the baby should be born through a C-section.
The study was published in Canadian Medical Association Journal. It also showed that babies that were formula-fed partially or exclusively have their intestinal flora different from those that were breast-fed.
Anita Kozyrskyj, the study senior author, speculated that this new observation shows that there is a risk for the baby to develop a poor health later in life. This is based on the fact that other research have shown an association between cesarean section and the changes in the baby’s intestinal flora. The same association has been made between the baby’s gut changes and the fact that he is formula-fed. There also seems to be a link between the flora in the baby’s gut and chances that he develops allergies.
Kozyrskyj added that with these findings, the current clinical practice guidelines that gives the priority on vaginal delivery whenever possible are justified.
When a baby is born through the usual vaginal delivery, he is exposed to a certain number of “good” bacteria that will grow in trillions and help the child maintain a good health by training the immune system to react appropriately in future events. Unfortunately when a baby is born through C-section, he is not exposed to those same types of bacteria.
Women who undergo C-section start breast-feeding later and for a period of time will have to take antibiotics. That can also potentially affect the microbiome of the new born baby.
It has also been shown that babies that are fed with formula milk, aside from also not having the required diverse intestinal flora, become fertile grounds for bacteria like Clostridium Difficile, the bacteria believed to be involved in allergies.
According to Kozyrskyj, it is too early to conclude that once a baby is born through c-section he is going to develop health problems in the future. The microbiome of the child can still change over time and compensate for the low level of bacteria he was born with. What the child eats through his life and the environment he is been exposed to will also have an influence on the intestinal flora. That said women should always give priority to vaginal delivery and breast-feeding.