A new study from researchers at the Australia's School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of NSW claims to offer evidence about the health benefits of vaginal birth over cesarean birth for babies.  

According to the study, babies born by caesarean section are more vulnerable to asthma, allergies and infection as they miss out on receiving their mothers' good bacteria during birth. Alternatively, according to researchers, babies delivered vaginally received protective bacteria as they passed through the birth canal. Left on the baby's skin, this bacteria could then colonized the baby's intestine and help inoculate her against immediate and future germs and illnesses.

These findings were apparently based on research showing that white blood cells in babies born by cesarean were different to those born vaginally, potentially altering the way their bodies responded to attacks on their immune systems for the rest of their lives.

Fortunately, for moms whose doctors are recommending a c-section, there is an out-clause.  Babies had other chances to receive their mother's bacteria, during skin-to-skin contact directly after birth and if they were breastfed.

As a mom with a background in the sciences, I find the actual facts of this study to be lacking.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for vaginal birth over c-section whenever possible for moms and for babies.  But I'm just not sure that there is any real evidence behind these claims.  And these kinds of "pseudo studies" only serve to add to a new parents guilt and anxiety.

What do you think?  Is this bacterial study bona fide or bogus?

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