Gut bacteria affected C-section babies may be less healthy

Credits: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson


EDMONTON – Researchers at the University of Alberta say babies born via caesarian section may be more likely to develop health conditions like asthma or allergies.

The study, published in this week's issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggests that the way babies are born and fed in early life affects the gut bacteria in newborns.

The team, headed by senior author Anita Kozyrksyj, studied the bacteria inside the intestinal tracts of 24 healthy infants.

Their results suggest that babies delivered born via caesarean section lack a specific group of bacteria found in babies delivered vaginally, even if they were breast fed.

Researchers say this could mean an increased risk of developing diseases like asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer.

"Just for moms to be aware that decisions that they make about birth and feeding can affect their infants microbiome long term," said Kozyrkyj, adding researchers wanted to learn more about the possible implications of C-section delivery or feeding by bottle.

"We're still learning about those effects."

People carry bacteria with them in and on their bodies, researchers say, most of which are either helpful or don't do anything at all.

Bacteria in the gut helps digest food, stimulates the development of the immune system, regulates bowels and protects against infection.

In Alberta, about 30% of babies born are delivered via caesarian section, and Kozyrkyj said an increasing number of moms-to-be are opting for elective surgery.

Kozyrkyj said they look to expand their research field even further to 2,500 infants.

This is the first large study of its kind in North America.

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