Did you know that a baby born by caesarean has a different microbial arrangement in the body than the vaginal babies? The newborn Microbiome studies have revealed that a caesarean baby lacks the strains of gut bacteria, natural vaginal flora that a healthy child born through the vaginal canal has. In fact, these babies tend to carry some harmful bacteria found in the hospitals which cause autoimmune diseases like allergies and obesity.
- Compared to the vaginal baby, a baby born through caesarean has a different Microbiome – the microbes that colonise the guts of a baby.
- A C-section baby has harmful microbes in the guts acquired from the hospital that might be the cause of autoimmune immune diseases like allergy and obesity.
- However, the difference in the Microbiome of the two different babies goes away with time and become similar.
- The vaginal bacteria benefit absent in caesarean babies can be acquired from both vaginal seeding and breastfeeding.
Why is the Microbiome different?
Previous researches on the newborn Microbiome – the microbes that colonise the guts of a baby after it is born – had discovered that the C-section babies do not have the microbes that a baby born through vaginal canal had. The natural vaginal flora present in the mother’s gut and the babies that pass through the birth canal easily acquire it. But, the caesarean babies cannot have the advantage of this transmission. Another major reason of this is that the mothers undergoing caesarean surgery are given antibiotics to reduce the impact of infections on the incision sites. These antibiotics tend to kill the desired bacteria in their vagina along with the harmful microbes. Even the babies of the mothers who take antibiotics but give birth through the vagina have a low amount of beneficial bacteria but more than the pure caesarean babies.
Researches have also shown that a caesarean baby has higher risks of immunity-related diseases in the future. The link of these higher risks of disease is perhaps in the harmful pathogens that a caesarean baby carries from the environment of the hospital.
Researches have also shown that a caesarean baby has higher risks of immunity-related diseases in the future. The link of these higher risks of disease is perhaps in the harmful pathogens that a caesarean baby carries from the environment of the hospital. However, the direct link and the long-term effect of these microbes are still being researched.
Microbiota of the C-section babies
The gut microbiota of a caesarean baby definitely lacks the bacteria that are present in large amount in the guts of a vaginal baby. The additional harmful microbes that get on the guts of caesarean babies are the Enterococcus and Klebsiella that are found in hospitals. The stark difference in the microbiota of the babies born in different ways is surely a matter of worry for many parents. However, the scientists have suggested that there is nothing to worry about because the difference in the microbiota goes away later and the microbiotas of the two children become almost similar. The harmful pathogens of the caesarean babies’ guts slowly shed away, with the exception of a common gene of commensal bacteria called Bacteroids. These bacteria were present in a low amount in the guts of the caesarean babies during birth. However, even after nine months of birth, 60% of the babies still showed traces of these bacteria in their microbiota. The good news is that previous researches have suggested that some species of Bacteroids influence the immune system of the host and help to repress inflammations.
However, the stark difference in the microbiota still remains the chief concern of the scientists and the parents. New researches are being conducted to acquire the essential vaginal flora and microbes on the caesarean babies and equalize their microbiota with the babies born through vaginal canals. The most demanding and yet controversial technique is the Vaginal seeding of the C-section babies.
Vaginal seeding is the process in which the C-section babies are made to acquire the vaginal bacteria by swabbing the vaginal fluid of the mother on the face of the caesarean baby. This process helps in imitating the experience of the baby born through the vaginal canal as it exposes the caesarean baby to the same fluid and pathogens as the vaginal baby. This process has often worked and the caesarean babies have acquired the vaginal flora and microbes that they lacked initially. Many mothers who give birth through caesarean often demand vaginal seeding of their child to avoid future health risks.
Vaginal seeding is the process in which the C-section babies are made to acquire the vaginal bacteria by swabbing the vaginal fluid of the mother on the face of the caesarean baby.
However, vaginal seeding can pose a dangerous risk to the health and life of the baby. The process of vaginal seeding exposes the newly born baby directly to the fluids of the mother’s vaginal secretion which might have hidden traces of disease-causing pathogens like the herpes simplex virus, hepatitis, Group B strep. These pathogens often are undetectable and hence pose a serious threat to the life of the baby.
Therefore, the process of vaginal seeding is not recommended and encouraged by hospitals. It is carried out only when correct data of the safety and benefit of the process is available and if the mother really insists for vaginal seeding of her child.
However, scientists have also suggested that natural bacteria can be acquired through ways other than vaginal seeding. Breastfeeding of the child born by caesarean can help in restoring its Microbiomes within six weeks. According to researches and studies, breast milk is the excellent source of almost 30% of the beneficial gut bacteria of a baby; the skin on the mother’s breast accounts for 10% of these bacteria. Therefore, scientists have suggested that instead of worrying about choosing caesarean over vaginal birth, mothers should nourish their babies through breastfeeding and good and healthy lifestyle.
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.