Boosting your baby’s immunity through “seeding”
A new trend in Australian childbirth seeks to level the playing field for babies born by Cesarean section. Seeding, though still a fringe practice, involves swabbing C-section-born babies with vaginal fluid – introducing them to the same bacteria their vaginally born counterparts benefit from.
When born naturally, babies are pushed through the birth canal, exposing them to more than 300 good bacteria. These microbes boost baby’s immunity and may even ward off disease later in life. In fact, this exposure to bacteria during birth has been such a hot topic lately that researchers are rallying to study it. One of these recent reports, published in the British Medical Journal, suggests that when C-section babies miss out on these microbes, they’re made more susceptible to chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies and diabetes.
Show us the evidence
As of now, seeding is not a scientifically proven method to strengthen immunity in newborns – and it’s not widely sanctioned by U.S. hospitals either. However, a preliminary study at New York University’s School of Medicine does show some promising first results: Doctors can significantly boost the levels of beneficial bacteria in C-section babies by performing this simple procedure. So, in short, seeding works. But without proper evidence-based research to prove the efficacy of this boost, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology won’t endorse the practice. So while this option may not be available to you for your current pregnancy, rest assured the medical community is hard at work testing this intriguing practice.
Don’t try this at home
Tempted to bypass researchers and try this procedure on your own? Don’t. Seeding relies on careful handling and the safe, sterile transfer of fluids from mom to baby. What’s more, it’s crucial to ensure mom’s not carrying any harmful bacteria, such as a sexually transmitted disease, that can be shared with her little one. Lastly, seeding, if beneficial in the first place, is likely so only immediately following birth.
The bottom line
While more rigorous studying is in the works, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that seeding may help improve health outcomes for babies born by C-section. Facing a trip to the operating room? Sit tight. This procedure may not be available to you just yet, but keep an eye on research in the near future.