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  • C-section Babies Are More Likely To Develop Asthma, Have A Weakened Immune System

    C-sections have saved countless lives, but it should be performed only when necessary.
    by Rachel Perez .
C-section Babies Are More Likely To Develop Asthma, Have A Weakened Immune System
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Cesarean section (CS) deliveries were developed to save the lives of both the mother and newborn. But it comes at a price: It’s not as easy to recover from a C-section than a vaginal birth, and it’s not just because of the deep wound in the abdomen. (Click here for the pros and cons of vaginal and CS births.)

    Recent studies found that children born via C-sections may make them more likely to develop certain diseases such as asthma. This might be due to a weakened immune system, as the infants were not exposed to the protective gut bacteria had they passed through their mother’s birth canal.

    Don’t be so hard on your self if you needed a C-section. If you’re pregnant, before you push for a vaginal delivery even when it’s not safe for you or your baby, here’s what you need to know.

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    C-sections do not cause kids to develop certain illnesses and conditions.

    C-sections have been associated with a child’s risk of developing allergies, asthma, type 1 diabetes, and obesity since 2015. It has also been linked to higher chances of having autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, Reuters reports. It doesn’t mean that CS causes these conditions.

    Researchers from the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, the University of Turku, and VATT Institute for Economic Research, in Finland, along with Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain, looked at data from 1.4 million Finnish children who were followed from birth until age 15. The study found that potentially avoidable unplanned CS surgeries increased a child’s risk of asthma. It did not affect a child’s risk of other immune-mediated disorders previously associated with CS, such as type 1 diabetes or obesity, Inquirer reports.

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    Babies born via CS may have a weakened immune system.

    Researchers from the University College London (UCL), the University of Birmingham, and the Wellcome Sanger Institute in the U.K. analyzed the most significant sample of gut bacteria ever studied so far — 1,679 samples from 596 babies and 175 mothers. The data composed of fecal samples (poop!) from babies age 4, 7, and 21 days. The seven-year study found that babies born vaginally and those delivered via CS have significantly different gut microbiomes.

    The researchers believe that vaginal birth exposes a newborn to a “huge amount of bacteria” from the mother’s gut (and not the birth canal), which primes his immune system to develop normally — it gives it a great good head start in life, if you may. But the study also found that the differences in gut bacteria between babies born vaginally and via CS largely even out by the time the babies turn age 1, The Telegraph reports. Still, more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of gut bacteria exposure at birth.

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    Infant gut bacteria may be influenced by other factors.

    Apart from babies not being exposed to the mother’s gut bacteria, babies born via CS also have increased bacteria typically acquired in hospitals, which can lead to infections. But C-section births are but one of the three main factors that influence the gut microbiome, along with infant formula and antibiotics.

    Your takeaway? Your child’s health is influenced by a lot of factors and not just how you delivered him into this world. C-sections have saved countless lives of moms and babies. Keep in mind, too, that there is a reason why doctors perform C-sections only when necessary. If you’re pregnant or planning to be, there’s no hurt in prioritizing self-care, which would lower your chances of needing one.

    You can also work on breastfeeding your baby for as long as you can, and always consult a doctor when it comes to giving antibiotics to your child.

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    Click here for everything you need to know about C-sections.

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