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The way we are born and long-term health

14 September 2015

Dr Liz Forbes-Blom, head of our Gut Immunology team discusses concerns that babies born via Caesarian section have a different gut microbial signature than those born vaginally, and how new research could help in the future. Watch the TV3 news item below.

One of the first exposures to microbes from the outside world happens during birth.  Early colonisation of gut microbiota happens via the mouth and nose as the baby travels down the birth canal.  Emerging evidence points to this as a significant step in the development of the immune system, with babies born by via Caesarean section procedures having different communities of microbes to babies born vaginally.  

This is of paramount interest, as babies who enter the world through Caesarean delivery face much greater risks of developing a range of chronic immune disorders caused by defects in the immune system, compared to those delivered naturally. A hallmark study[1] published this year has examined the correlation between Caesarean sections and immunological disorders in two million Danish children born over a period of 35 years. They identified that children born by Caesarean were hospitalised more frequently than those born vaginally due to asthma, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, immune system defects, leukaemia, and other tissue disorders during their lives. 

Increased awareness of this has seen the growth of mouth and nose gauze applications from their mother’s vagina to babies born this way, but the significance of other early life immune education steps require further research. 





















1  Cesarean section and chronic immune disorders.Sevelsted A, Stokholm J, Bønnelykke K, Bisgaard H. Pediatrics. 2015 Jan;135(1):e92-8. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0596. Epub 2014 Dec 1.