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Can Delivery Affect your Baby’s Immune Health?

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Canadian researchers have found that babies born by cesarean section versus vaginal delivery, as well as babies who are formula fed as opposed to breast fed, may develop compromised bacteria inside their guts, which is closely linked to healthy digestion and immunity.

The first North American study of its kind examined how decisions around the births and diets of babies can impact the gut “microbiome”—an invisible collection of bacteria, fungi, and viruses—which are responsible for keeping our immune health vigorous and protecting us against disease.

Study researchers analyzed the DNA and gut bacteria of 24 infants, aged four months. Findings revealed that the richness and diversity of gut bacteria were reduced in babies born by C-section. However, while formula fed babies showed higher overall gut bacteria; they showed more instances of C. difficile (a pathogen that triggers diarrhea).

“It’s filling in an important piece of the picture…,” claims Dr. Rob Knight, associate professor and leading researcher with the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado. “This is the first [report of its kind] that tracks the same children and shows differences in the microbiome that are associated with health outcomes.”

Even though Dr. Knight admits the health consequences of the study results are still uncertain, he points to an extensive body of research that already links disturbances to the microbiome with health issues such as—asthma, allergies, obesity, celiac disease, and even diabetes.

And because our guts are meant to have numerous microbes that perform tasks such as:

  • Absorption of vitamins and nutrients—such as milk digestion
  • And, helping the immune system protect the body from harmful pathogens

As Dr. Knight explains it—babies are born with “clean slates” but as they pick up more microbes as they pass through their mother’s vaginas. If they are born via C-section, chances are they’ll miss out on essential microbes passed from mother to baby during child birth.

Source: The Star

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