Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Popular myth about health of C-section babies debunked by Aussie researchers

The notion that babies born by Caesarean section are more likely to develop food allergies in infancy is not supported by evidence, Australian researchers have found.

More than 2000 babies in Victoria have been studied by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to determine whether there was an increased correlation between their birth method and food allergies in the first year of life.

There wasn’t. Of the 30 per cent of those infants born by Caesarean, 12.7 per cent had a food allergy.

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Of the remaining who were born vaginally, 13.2 per cent had a food allergy.

The findings appear to rule out a theory that babies born vaginally are less predisposed to food allergies because of earlier microbial – or bacterial – exposure, said research team member Rachel Peters.

The Mode Of Birth Of A Baby Is Not Linked To Their Predisposition To Food Allergies, Australian Researchers Have Found.  File Image.
The mode of birth of a baby is not linked to their predisposition to food allergies, Australian researchers have found. File image. Credit: Getty Images

“There was a temporal link which made us consider this study, and there was also a biologically plausible mechanism,” Peters, an epidemiologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, told

“It’s well established that the mother’s microbiome is transferred to the baby during delivery, and that does have an impact on the child’s health as they grow up.”

Peters said previous research exploring the topic produced “mixed” results in determining a link between birth method and food allergies, most likely as a result of deficiencies in methodology.

But her study has used “gold-standard food allergy measures and we’ve linked it with information collected in hospitals when babies were born, so we’ve got detailed information on their birth”.

She says the findings are crucial because food allergies have been rising.

Peanuts Are One Of The Foods That Can Cause Allergies In Children.
Peanuts are one of the foods that can cause allergies in children. Credit: Getty Images

“Any new knowledge is good knowledge. It helps to really pick apart what is driving the rise in food allergies and what isn’t,” she said.

“We’ve seen a rise in food allergy over the last 20 years or so and there have been lots of theories as to why that is

“So it’s really important that we examine each theory and work out whether it is related or not.

“In this case, we’ve worked out that Caesarean deliveries are not increasing the risk of food allergy.”

She said “other factors that do predispose a baby to developing food allergies” are things like eczema, diet (ie the early introduction of allergenic food such as smooth peanut butter and well-cooked eggs) and environment.


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