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Breakthrough study: C-section babies may miss certain health benefits

Breakthrough study: C-section babies may miss certain health benefits

Breakthrough study: C-section babies may miss certain health benefits

A world-first study out of New Zealand aims to reveal the health benefits that conventionally-born babies may get in early life – which babies born by Caesarean-section miss out on.

According to the latest New Zealand Ministry of Health figures, there were 16,423 C-section births in this country last year – 25 per cent of all live births.

Scientists at the University of Auckalnd’s Liggins Institute, however, say that babies born by C-section have a greater risk of getting asthma and eczema, and are also likely to be obese later in life.

“Babies born by caesarean miss out on the normal process of exposure to these bacteria, which happens during a vaginal birth,” the study page on the University of Auckland website reads. “The bacteria are an important part of developing babies’ digestive and immune systems. The study is trying to see if mimicking the normal process can help babies born by caesarean.”

The study will investigate the role of mothers’ bacteria in babies’ early health, and will “examine twins where one twin is treated with the mother’s bacteria, and the other is not,” says study lead Professor Wayne Cutfield.

If the treatments with the mothers’ microbiome actually improves the health and wellbeing of the children in terms of obesity and asthma, it’s going to be a simple thing to scale up and do,” Cutfield adds.

Findings from previous studies suggest that what’s commonly called “vaginal seeding” might help babies born by caesarean establish normal gut bacteria.

This new study, a first of its kind, is said to be informative to pregnant women who may or may not be undergoing Caesarean section, and to obstetricians and midwives.

More information and how to get involved can be found on the University of Auckland website.

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