Is there an effect of Caesarian on children and potentially later in their life? Yes according to the research Dr Michael Mosely is reporting on. Let’s take a look at what he’s discussing in his latest book “The Clever Guts Diet”.
His easy reading style and approachable manner makes his latest book a winner. Although I think written with the masses in mind, Dr Michael Mosely makes something as complex as the gut an walk in the park.
Dr Mosely is a qualified doctor who after qualifying worked at the BBC, reporting on all things medical science. He is now a well known TV presenter and author of the best-selling Fast Diet about fasting (The 5:2 Diet) and The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet. He is remembered for being the doctor who used himself as a guinea pig on National TV to swallow a camera pill and record the goings on of his digestion for The Science Museum in London.
In his latest release The Clever Guts Diet, Dr Mosely discusses the Microbiome and where it comes from, the good bacteria, the bad bacteria and how to navigate through to a happy and healthy gut and a better quality of life. But more interesting to me was the views presented about Caesarian vs. Natural Birth rates and the long term view on our health. I think people are aware of some of the issues around Caesarians, but this really spells it out clearly.
How you’re born determines your future health.
He says in utero we are all free of gut microbes. If you’re born vaginally, contact with your mother’s vaginal fluids and faeces initiate them to colonise your gut. The gut is one of the last systems to develop in babies, and is more fully flourished by the age of three. Your immune system is one fo the other systems to develop later. It makes sense from this perspective if both systems are dependant on the good bacteria you harbour in your gut.
Without competition from anything else, they thrive and enhanced further by the good bacteria from breastmilk & breastfeeding.
So it all depends on how you were born and how you were reared.
“If you were born by Caesarian (C-section) things would have been very different. The first bacteria you encountered would have been hanging around in the operating theatre, those on the skin of the people that held you and anything else you inhaled or swallowed in the first few hours of life.”
Poo samples taken from babies who were delivered by Caesarian section show that they have a very different gut bacterial population from those that were born vaginally. Does this matter? Very much so.
(The Clever Guts Diet p 73)
Staggering outcomes from Harvard research
The research by Harvard’s TH Chan School of Public Health that Mosely discusses is amazing – that babies born via Caesarian are more at risk of becoming obese as children and overweight as adults.
The research is based on a sample of 22,000 and follows these babies right into adulthood.
An the results continue to show similar results between siblings born differently. This provides an excellent control of being brought up in the same environment, eating the same food and having the same genes. Kids that were born via Caesarian were found to be 64% more likely to be obese than their siblings.
This shows how important the first exposure to the baby is in determining the future health of that child and society at large.
The latest options for Caesarian Newborns are controversial.
If babies are birthed by Caesarian, Mosely mentions ‘Vaginal seeding’ or Microbirthing which involves taking a swab from the mother’s vaginal fluid and faeces and putting it in contact with the babies skin and orifices under clinical and controlled conditions.
Perhaps this is something to bring up with your Obstetrician for discussion, but Mosely warns, some doctors are open to it and others are not.
The facts include that Caesarian born babies include that they’re more likely to develop allergies later in life and Breastfed babies are half as likely to develop eczema or asthma.
Doctors tips for promoting newborn and toddler gut development.
Some of the tips suggested by cited Doctors for Caesarian newborns and toddlers to help their gut health include:
- Avoiding uneccesary antibiotics
- Promoting breast feeding
- Promote a healthy diet to encourage good gut bacteria
The more you can encourage good gut flora in a newborn regardless of how they were born, it seems, the better. With babies having around 100 species and adults having 1000 species. There’s a lot to catch up on especially if you had or are having a Caesarian.
Options for Mum to help out.
- Taking a good quality practitioner strength Pro-biotic so the benefits will come through the breast milk
- Eating plenty of vegetables as a more diverse diet promotes a more diverse microbiome and your antibodies are passed through the breast milk to baby.
- Eating bone broth to health the gut lining, and I recommend this recipe here.
I found reading The Clever Guts Diet by Dr Michael Mosely really interesting and relevant to those trying to conceive, those Pregnant or about to give birth. It also applies to anyone interested in simply feeling better and healthier. It is easy to read and follows his presenter style of delivering the message through analogies that demystify technical jargon.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the gut is represented by the Spleen. Supporting your Spleen for fertility, pre-conception care and during Pregnancy is a priority for Practitioners when working with women’s health. The cross-over and insights of Western Medicine, simply enhance that principle and remind us all to prioritise it for better health.
For Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine advice on how to support your gut and strengthen your spleen energy for conception, pregnancy or post-natally, email me to start a discussion on firstname.lastname@example.org today.
Ref: Mosely, M. (2017) The Clever Guts Diet – How to revolutionise your body from the inside out.
Association between caesarian birth and risk of obesity in offspring childhood, adolescence and early adulthood. JAMA Paediatrics, 2016