Mom's Day Monday: Vaginal Seeding, a New Birth Trend?

In the US about 30% of babies are born by C-section , and in the UK about 25%. C-section can provide a number of safety features for the baby: no risk of shoulder entrapment in the birth canal, no risk of birth traumas on any of the baby, more rapid delivery if labor complications are occurring, and in cases where a mom has Herpes Simplex or Group Beta Strep there is almost no risk of being exposed and therefor there no risk of acquiring any active infections from mom. But there are potential disadvantages: perhaps not getting the stress of the birth results in less of the fluid in the lungs being squeezed out, for instance. Overall we say the baby has about a 2% chance of having a complication of vaginal birth, and only about 1% chance of having a birthing complication from a c-section operative delivery. thus c-sections are very very safe for baby, and new techniques to make it 'safer' or better for the baby in later life need to be carefully evaluated. An open question is whether the baby needs some exposure to the microbiologic flora of mom's vaginal tissues. It has now been reported in Medscape that moms in the UK who have a baby by cesarean section are requesting a procedure called 'vaginal seeding' or 'microbirthing', which is taking a swab of the vaginal fluid and spreading it across the baby's body. the idea is to help aid the rapid appearance of bacteria in the baby's GI tract so the baby will be healthier and have fewer allergies in later life. However when reporting this the British Medical Journal cautions that there is a lack of evidence to prove it has any benefits and it could lead to serious infections. The issue is that the procedure may or may not be mimicking what occurs in a natural vaginal delivery, and there is potential for causing excess exposure to infections that the baby would not have been exposed to. It has not been established as to what part is genetic and what part may be secondary to having a C-section, but the article points out that babies born by cesarean section have a slightly increased risk of some conditions in later life such as obesity, allergies and autoimmune disease. Most obstetricians feel that there should be some research basis and safety analysis before exposing the baby to micro


Imperial College London News Release
BMJ press release
BMJ Editorial: "Vaginal seeding" of infants born by caesarean section. How should health professionals engage with this increasingly popular but unproved practice?
Reviewed on February 24, 2016
 

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