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C-sections and gut flora in babies

Here is a recent article which talks about the effect of delivery method on the gut flora of newborns. Basically, studies show that babies delivered by C-section have altered gut flora which persists for at least six months after birth. Breastfeeding does not seem to change this alteration of gut flora.


I've never seen any actual numbers, but I would guess that Crohn's and UC mums are more likely to have a C-section, but even without the IBD, the section rate for the US as a whole is around 32%!!!

If you do have a C-section, you may want to think about giving probiotics to your baby. Here are two articles that touch on this topic:



One more thing to consider for the Mums, if you have a C-section, it's likely you will be given strong IV antibiotics as an infection preventative. This will wreak havoc on your own intestinal bugs, so take some probiotics with you to the hospital for yourself!
This is extremely interesting!! That you so much for posting. I'd due in February and taking natural childbirth classes. I hope to be able to deliver naturally, but in case I can't, I'm going to start researching infant friendly probiotics. Thanks again!!
That is interesting but I have had Crohn's since I was 19yrs old, undiagnosed, and had my first child at 21. Natural. Then at 23 I had my second and she was a c/s baby b/c she was breech and would not flip to save my life. I had horrible symtoms of Crohn's right before I got pregnant with her too and then my whole pregnancy, they stopped till she was about 4 mnths old and came right back.

Anyways, that is interesting to read. I don't buy too much into it though.
Just curious akanderson, what part don't you buy? I think the differences in the gut flora is pretty well documented. Is it the link to asthma and allergies?
Any of it. I have two children born both ways and honestly, the oldest was had tummy issues, got sick more often and was colic. The youngest, csection, never had tummy issues, has been sick with a cold once, and was not colic. The oldest went to her biological father's house around an older cousin who got her sick. Both were breast fed for 6mnths and are now healthy happy 5 and 2 years old. So maybe some kids have the gut flora troubles and asthma but I don't buy it really.

My younger brother, who was born at 32 wks premature and vaginally had his lungs collapse and he has asthma and allergies bad. Always has.

It's nice to have the research but it's not always why or gonna happen. But I do agree that csection is should not be as popular and elective as they are now days. I am highly against them and if I wasn't a high risk pregnancy with my youngest I would have stayed with the midwife if she had let me.
Yes, if you read carefully, the researchers themselves specifically say they cannot conclude that the altered gut bacteria is a cause of increased allergies and asthma, but it is a theory they are proposing. They did find a different gut flora in 43% of the C-section babies in their sample, and the children who tested positive for the C. diff were twice as likely to have asthma. But 27% of the vaginal deliveries were also positive for C. diff. So, no real smoking gun there.

I think it is interesting that the gut flora is altered, and that it *may* have an effect on the immune functioning later in life. But it wouldn't affect every child.

There are so many factors that go into the health of a particular person, and the vast majority of babies born via C-section are going to be healthy. But I do believe that the case is there that C-sections do carry risks to babies born this way, and that the C-section is overused and should not be elective, in my opinion.
Jenn, I was wondering if it was Bradley. I have been teaching Bradley for 5 years, so I would say it's good, but of course I'm biased! :) I was able to have all three of my kids naturally, even though I had a flare and Crohn's problems during 2 pregnancies, so it did work for me, and I am a big believer in natural birth. A lot of it depends on the teacher. Some Bradley teachers are pretty hard core about Natural Birth, and others are not, all Bradley teachers are independent. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have if you want to PM me.

I think more than the way we are born plays into gut flora. I also believe that breastfeeding and antibiotics given during childbirth play a big part in it to. Formula changes the ph of the gut and makes it more hospitable to pathogenic bacteria.

As always statistics mean everything to the group and nothing to the individual. Just because they dont apply to your situation doesnt mean they dont apply to the population as a whole. People tend to forget this and think "Well I did ____ and we are fine". It doesnt mean the study isnt a valid one.
Lydia, I totally agree w/ your stats observation! I was trying to phrase that into a response to you akanderson, but I think Lydia might have said it best. There is so much that influences an individuals health, it would be impossible to say "my kid has asthma because he was born via c-section" or vice versa. While a finding may have statistical relevance when applied to a population, it loses some of that relevance when applied to an individual. I do think that knowing a vaginal birth *might* have benefits to my child's intestinal health will help me stick to my birth plan.
That's awesome Mapper! I am pretty excited about starting the classes. I will send you a PM once we start. I tend to have a million questions heh heh.