Some Doctors Are Smearing C-Section Babies With Bacteria To Boost Their Health

Some Doctors Are Smearing C-Section Babies With Bacteria To Boost Their Health

A few years ago, I came across some research reporting that the way a child is born appears to have consequences for their health. How so? Scientists believe that the bacterial composition of a woman’s vagina changes during pregnancy in order to allow certain bacteria to coat the child as it passes through the birth canal during delivery. These bacteria are thought to promote healthy development and functioning. If a child is delivered via Caesarean section (i.e., C-section), that child does not have the benefit of being exposed to those bacteria and, as a result, could potentially experience worse health outcomes than those born vaginally. However, some doctors believe there may be a way to remedy this and boost the health of C-section babies.

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Vaginal Delivery VS. C-Section: Does Different Bacterial Exposure During Childbirth Affect Kids' Health?

I heard a fascinating edition of NPR’s On Point this week about how the bacteria that colonize our bodies impact our health, influencing everything from digestion to immune functioning (you can listen to the entire show here). The thing I found most interesting about this program was when they discussed how some of the most vital bacteria for promoting healthy development and functioning are acquired during childbirth, specifically through vaginal delivery. The bacterial composition of a woman’s vagina actually changes during pregnancy, presumably to allow certain bacteria to coat the child as it passes through the birth canal. However, if a child is delivered via Caesarean section (or C-section), that child does not have the benefit of being exposed to those bacteria and, as a result, could potentially experience worse health outcomes. After hearing this program, I just had to do some digging to learn more about the research in this area.
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