C-section baby with natural birth benefits
The Doc Smitty asks, ‘Is it possible?’
If you deliver a baby via C-section, should you swab them with your vaginal secretions?
A new study in Nature Medicine started the process of trying to answer this exact question
You might be thinking, “What the?” But there is some logic to this:
- Babies born via C-section have been shown to have slightly higher risk of some diseases (obesity, allergies and asthma for example).
- We are beginning to understand how the makeup of bacteria in our intestines affects many different diseases.
- Babies born via C-section are not exposed to the normal bacteria that line the birth canal
The question then would need to be asked: Can you reverse this process by exposing babies to the vaginal flora after they were born via C-section? This small pilot study of four babies seems to suggest that you can.
The process: Within in the first two minutes after birth, take a piece of gauze, which has been placed in the vagina. Swab the babies mouth, forehead and the rest of their body. Test these babies to see what bacteria are present in their bodies.
The answer: Those C-section babies who were swabbed with vaginal secretion showed that the bacteria they carried more closely resembled babies who were delivered vaginally.
This was a small study, which needs to be repeated on a larger scale and there are still many questions to answered:
- Does changing the bacteria that a baby carries actually help to prevent diseases?
- How do we make sure this procedure is safe? How do we screen moms to make sure there is no added risk to the baby?
- What is the best means of transferring the bacteria? Is there a better way that what was done in this study?
The role that the bacteria we carry play in our health is gaining interest. I’m sure that we will continue to see studies like this and many others in this area. Stay tuned.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . View more from The Doc Smitty at his Facebook page.He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.