Babies who are born through C-section are not given the opportunity to gain the same type of exposure to positive bacteria. So in a new study, scientists are now manually creating this exposure to test what kind of impact it would have on the childâs development. This is done by swabbing the fluids from the motherâs vaginal area onto the child within two minutes of birth.
Researchers are looking specifically for the development of these helpful microbes. Maria Gloria Dominguez-Bello of New York University, the lead author of the pilot study, said researchers would reveal how babies assemble their microbiome, to see if the C-section babies ever âcatch up.â
The study is still in its beginning stages, and a small sample has already been conducted of seven babies born naturally and 11 babies born through a C-sectionâfour of whom have been swabbed with the bacteria. Researchers then took over 1,500 samples from the infants over a span of 30 days to test the growth of microbes.
Early reports show that the C-section infants swabbed with the bacteria have microbes similar to those of babies born naturally. The other C-section infants were missing two key bacteriaâLactobacillus and Bacteroidesâwhich are known to help build the immune system.
The study is expanding, and Dominguez-Bello now has over 80 babies and 13,000 samples waiting to be researched.
Gregor Reid, microbiology professor at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, agreed with the logic behind the study. âThe first few years of life are when we are programmed for long-term health. What this study is trying to say is, âI wonder how critical the vaginal microbiome is to this whole programming concept?â
Other doctors warn mothers not to move forward with this practice until more is known.
Another recent study presented by the Childrenâs Hospital in L.A. suggests that newborn babies who experience hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (when the brain is deprived of oxygen) be given whatâs known as therapeutic hypothermia (cooling of the brain) to protect the brain.
Researchers discovered that a protective effect occurred when the brain was cooled down enough to create a balance between neurotransmission and energy metabolism. Slowing this production of neurotransmitters lowerâs the brainâs hunger driveâso if the brain doesnât have that large appetite, it canât be starved. Researchers are hopeful that therapeutic hypothermia could be more commonly employed alongside hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy treatments.
Sources for Todayâs Article:
Dominguez-Bello, M.G., âPartial restoration of the microbiota of cesarean-born infants via vaginal microbial transfer,â Nature Medicine, 2016; doi:10.1038/nm.4039.
Neergaard, L., âCould germs help babies?â Times Colonist web site, February 2, 2016; http://www.timescolonist.com/life/could-germs-help-babies-1.2163370.