To Your Health
October, 2019 (Vol. 13, Issue 10)
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C-Section May Impact Baby's GI Bacteria

By Editorial Staff

Sometimes a Cesarean section is absolutely necessary, as in the case of pregnancy complications such as fetal distress or abnormal positioning, placental or umbilical cord issues, or delivery of multiple babies.

However, C-sections are also increasingly performed for reasons that aren't necessarily medically vital, such as a previous C-section or maternal preference. In fact, in the United States evidence suggests as high as one in three births are via C-section.

Why is that a problem? For one, C-sections come with their own inherent risks; after all, it's a surgical procedure. Second, increasing research suggests C-sections may create complications that impact the baby after birth – including the topic of today's discussion: GI bacteria. We'll leave it to the authors of a new study published in Nature to explain the potential problem:

"Here we report the disrupted transmission of maternal Bacteroides strains, and high-level colonization by opportunistic pathogens associated with the hospital environment (including Enterococcus, Enterobacter and Klebsiella species), in babies delivered by caesarean section. ... This analysis demonstrates that the mode of delivery is a significant factor that affects the composition of the gut microbiota throughout the neonatal period, and into infancy."

In other words, babies born by C-section appeared to have less of the mother's GI bacteria (the healthy kind) and more of the bacteria that can be present in the hospital setting in which they were delivered (the unhealthy kind). That doesn't necessarily mean babies born via C-section will develop disease or end up unhealthier than babies born naturally ... but it certainly is food for thought if you're considering a C-section that isn't absolutely necessary. Click here to learn more about some of the considerations you should discuss with your doctor before agreeing to a C-section that isn't an emergency.