The miracle of birth can be one of the most gratifying experiences in somebody’s life, as well as the most disturbing one. And most of the times, it actually is both at the same. However, there are multiple ways of giving birth, some better for the child than others. In order to find out if does any good, a team of researchers from New York got a number of C-section babies lathered in their mothers’ microbes.
Babies’ microbiomes and the effect on their health
Babies are meant to be born in a particular way. By passing through the mother’s birth canal, the baby gets in contact with the microbes present there. This is how the microbiome is formed.
The microbiome is the community of microbes living in a particular place at a point in time, in this case on the baby.
For babies delivered via C-sections, however, things actually don’t work out as well as for naturally delivered children.
This is because the microbes provided by the mother help the baby fight all sorts of diseases to which C0section babies are more vulnerable.
Asthma, allergies, Celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, and obesity are all related to disturbances in the microbiome, with naturally born babies being more resistant to these afflictions.
The slightly disturbing experiment
For the study, the team of researchers led by associate professor of medicine from New York’s University School of Medicine, Maria Dominguez-Bello attempted to normalize the microbiomes of a few children born by C-section.
By inserting a gauze pad into the mother’s birth canal before giving birth and then rubbing it over the infant’s face and body, the team hoped to grant the baby the same benefits as regular birth.
The team does advise against attempting this unsupervised, as certain microbes could prove fatal to the infant.
The test subjects consisted of 4 babies who got the microbe treatment, 7 babies delivered naturally, and 7 C-section babies that didn’t receive the treatment.
Microbiomes of the infants were tested at least a month after the swabbing, showing the babies that got the procedure to have more similar, although not identical microbiomes to those of the vaginally delivered babies.
Subsequent testing on the matter
The team is in need of funding to continue their tests on other infants, as well as to continue their current experiment.
Ideally, the babies would be checked periodically, at 1, 3, 5, etc. years in order to see if the procedure actually granted them any health benefits.
Without that, the actual effectiveness of the techniques can’t really be ascertained.
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