Medical experts have been pondering the sharp rise in children’s allergies over the past few decades, and a new culprit seems to have emerged: caesarean sections.
According to recent studies published in the scientific journal, Gut, children who were delivered via c-section may have less diverse “good gut” bacteria (more formally known as gut macrobiota) than those delivered vaginally, which means they are poorer equipped to ward off disease.
Right up until the moment of birth, a baby's gut is completely sterile, but when Baby travels through birth canal, s/he is exposed to bacteria that colonize in the digestive tract. This bacteria is believed to aid immune system development over the first years of life. If this does not happen, and a child enters the world through an incision in the mother’s belly, the gut bacteria may be less diverse, and there is a risk that throughout the child’s life that antigens in the environment will cause the system to overreact in allergic response.
What’s the takeaway? If you delivered your child via c-section talk to your doctor about ways to safeguard your child and help him/her develop a mature immune system. Some doctors recommend that earlier exposure to solid foods (before 6 months of age) may help stimulate a higher diversity of good gut bacteria.