A Natural Birth Better for Your Baby's Gut

One more reason a mother-to-be should do all she can to avoid a Caesarean birth: A natural delivery through the birth canal may help a baby develop a healthier gut. German researchers came to that conclusion after studying the gut cells of mice born naturally and by Caesarean section.

Scientists extracted gut cells from embryos as well as one-day-old mice and exposed both to bacteria. Embryonic cells produced an inflammatory response, while the very same cells taken from a newborn ignored the bacterial trigger.

As a newborn travels naturally through and out of the birth canal, researchers say, the infant is exposed to enough bacteria that passes down to their gut that he or she can tolerate other friendly molecules which help them develop a healthy intestinal tract.

Conversely, a c-section birth means less exposure to bacteria, and theoretically, babies who may have more health challenges down the road, scientists say.

If you're a mother who os undecided about a vaginal birth versus Caesarian, you'll want to review more reasons why the latter is more complicated and potentially harmful for your baby and you.

Nature.com April 28, 2006

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