Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Are C-Section Babies More Likely To Develop Allergies?

Recently, I came across 2 health articles relating that C-section babies are at high risk of developing allergies.

" C-sections can deprive babies of the healthy dose of gut bacteria that comes from the birth canal. Without the bugs, the babies' immune systems appear underdeveloped – a trait that could lead to allergies later in life. "abcnews.go.com

"C-section babies are five times more likely to develop allergies by age two than those born naturally... In the gastrointestinal tract of babies born by c-section, there is a pattern of "at risk" microorganisms that may cause them to be more vulnerable to developing the antibody Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, when in contact with allergens" according to Dr. Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford Department of Health Sciences. - medicalnewstoday.com

Well, I'm not a doctor and I'm not sure how strong this scientific correlations are for C-section babies and allergies, but so far, from what I gather from relatives and friends around me, I do not see a trend. I know of those who went through C-section births and have healthy, allergy-free kids; on the other hand, I also know kids suffering from allergies and asthma who were delivered naturally.

I am a mother of one and I think most mothers, if they have a choice, would prefer to give birth naturally than via C-section. But unfortunately, things do not always go as planned and for medical reasons, e.g. breech position, mother's health,  emergency c-sec due to fetal distress etc have to opt for C-section birth. So if the above studies are true and future studies continue to back this correlation, then for mothers who have to undergo C-section birth, the next best step is to breastfeed.  We all know that breast milk contains antibodies which are extremely beneficial to babies. Besides,

"Breast milk is another important source of gut bacteria and it also contains nutrients that feed the bugs, called prebiotics"  according to Lita Proctor, director of the Human Microbiome Project, a National Institutes of Health initiative.

While the above information is something for us to bear in mind, in my personal opinion, based on my observation of those around me, I think there is a stronger correlation between allergy and genes (i.e. allergies are usually inherited) than C-section birth. Here's an interesting read from for those who are interested: Single Genetic Glitch May Explain Most Allergies and Asthma.