Microbiome: the problem of c-section babies
What’s the future of babies born by cesarean section?
A cesarean section doesn’t automatically condemn a child to a lifetime of asthma, eczema, diabetes or other chronic diseases, just as a vaginal birth isn’t a guarantee of perfect health. However, cesarean birth does appear to increase the risk of certain chronic health conditions by altering colonization of the gut and development of the immune system. A woman who has the option of choosing her mode of delivery should add this to the many other factors she must weigh in deciding how her child will be born because this may impact the future of her child.
Since the end of the last century, the rate of cesarean sections (CS) has increased dramatically in many countries. For example, the rate of CS in China increased from about 3% in 1988 to almost 40% in 2008. The CS rate in the US is more than 30% and in the UK it approaches 25%. Since 1985, the international healthcare community has considered the ideal rate for CS to be between 10% and 15%. According to a WHO report in 2010, a total of 68 countries had CS rates below 15%, whereas 69 showed rates above 15% (1).
The WHO estimated that in 2008, one third of the additional CS were needed for medical reasons whereas two-third unnecessary sections were performed. Considering the growing number of CS, concern has been raised about the potential negative health impact.
The mode of delivery is an essential determinant of microbiota composition in newborns. The gut microbiota in adults contains roughly one quadrillion cells—at least 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body itself. More than 1000 bacterial species have been identified to date and there may be more to be discovered in the future. Under normal conditions, the fetal gut is virtually sterile ...