Is C-Section Allergy Risk Real?

c-section allergy riskBy Katherine M. Tomlinson

If you’re one of a growing number of expectant moms contemplating an elective cesarean section, consider this: More and more evidence confirms that it may be in your child’s best interest to let nature take its course, since new research suggests a relationship between C-section and allergy risk. C-section babies are five times more likely to develop allergies by age 2 than babies born vaginally, according to a study of 1,258 newborns from Henry Ford Hospital presented at the February 2013 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology meeting in San Antonio, Texas.

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The findings reinforce previous indications that babies born by C-section are more prone to diarrhea, asthma and food allergies, because they are not exposed to valuable bacteria in the vagina that stimulate the development of infant immunity. “This further advances the hygiene hypothesis that early childhood exposure to microorganisms affects the immune system’s development and onset of allergies,” says lead author of the study, Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D., MPH, chair of Henry Ford Department of Public Health Sciences. “We believe a baby’s exposure to bacteria in the birth canal is a major influencer on their immune system.”