Study questions why children born by caesarean section may have developmental delays compared to children born by vaginal delivery.
Using NAPLAN test results of 5,000 year 3 students, researchers from the University of Melbourne found the delays were equivalent to a child missing about 35 days of a school year.
Melbourne University’s Cain Polidano described the findings as relatively small but significant, reports ABC NEWS.
“There is already a bit of evidence that shows that caesarean birth is related to a number of negative childhood health outcomes, including risks of ADHD, autism and also asthma”, Dr Polidano said.
“So our research speaks to that literature which shows that there’s a link, but what we do now is look at impacts on another outcome, which is child development.”
Dr Polidano said at this stage the link is “only correlational” as “it’s very difficult to establish causation because you can’t do randomised, controlled trials, which is the gold standard.”
“We’ve gone some way down the path of trying to establish causal relationships, we’ve still got a lot more work to do.”
Professor of physiology Joel Bornstein said it was possible gut bacteria picked up in the birth canal by babies born by vaginal delivery may give them a distinct developmental advantage down the track.
“Caesarean birth is associated with a different colonisation of the gut by the bacteria that form a large ecosystem inside the gastrointestinal tract,” Professor Bornstein said.
“Immediately after caesarean birth, the bacteria present are different from those that are present after a vaginal birth. There’s quite a lot of data now indicating that the gut bacteria influence the nervous system.
“So we believe, although there’s no way of proving it at this point, that this may be the difference that leads to the cognitive changes later on in life.”
“While we think that there’s nothing wrong with mums having greater agency of choice over mode of delivery, we also think it’s really important that they have the best information available,” Dr Polidano said.
But Professor Bornstein acknowledged the findings of the research may be controversial.
“I think [the findings] are going to be disturbing to quite a number of people,” he said.
“Certainly people will feel that they’ve done things in the best all possible knowledge at the time and now we’re saying, ‘Well, maybe that’s not quite so good’,” he said.
“One thing we do know is that these effects are not going to be as large as the difference that mum and dads can make by providing and stimulating and supportive environment,” he said.
“That’s certainly going to be more important than whether they had a C-section.”
Find more on the study HERE.
Doctors have raised concerns about the birth practice ‘Vaginal seeding’ following a caesarean and are urging parents not to buy into it.
‘Vaginal seeding’ reportedly originated in Australia and has since grown in popularity in the UK, with mums requesting their newborn babies have vaginal fluid rubbed in their face, eyes and skin immediately after a caesarean birth via swab.
Doctors have warned parents of the serious risks vaginal seeding poses to a baby, including infections such as group-B streptococcus, E. coli and a range of sexually transmitted infections. Read more about this here
What do you think about the findings of this study?
Share your comments below