First, congrats on being a baby and reading at such young age. Just kidding, of course, we are referring to people who were born through the Caesarean section. As long as we have your short attention span, if you were born via c-section, read on.
What is a C-section?
C-section, or Caesarean birth, refers to a delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus. Planned C-sections help women with potential complications prevent dangerous delivery-room situations and sometimes save the baby and/or mother in emergency situations. Essentially, if a vaginal birth is deemed to be risky, C-section is often the best option.
Why is It Called a C-section or Caesarean Section?
This delivery method originates from Ancient Roman times when a Caesarean section was performed in order to save a baby from a dead mother’s womb. However, the name does not come from the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, in fact, it is theorized it may be vice-versa. That his name may come from this method because of the way his ancestor was born. The exact origin of the name is unknown, but in Latin “caedo” means “to cut”, which may give a hint to where the term comes from.
Life-Long Effects of Being Born via C-Section
Lower T-cell Count & Weaker Immune System
C-section babies may share more than the way they came into this world. Studies have shown that the way you leave your womb can have implications how you grow, develop and live later on in life. It all started with a mice study published in 2014, which compared the effects of mice being born naturally and through c-section. What they found is that initially, their intestinal bacterial floras varied significantly depending on the way they were born. Later on, this difference seemed to vanish with age. However, what remained is the difference between their immune systems throughout their adult lives.
The scientists particularly noticed a difference in the number of T-cells. T-cells essentially help the immune system to remember all the things it should handle. For example, it would be less than ideal if your immune system starts to attack the food you eat. T-cells tell the body to hold off on the heavy defensive forces when they are not necessary. The scientists in this study found a significant difference in the number of T-cells in the two groups of mice. The mice born through C-section had way less of these cells.
What this shows is that the first encounter with bacteria should happen very early in a baby’s life. How early? Birth. Vaginal delivery can expose a baby to bacteria that prime babies for fighting germs and allergies when they grow up. It teaches the immune system to distinguish between things it should fight and let go. The lack of this distinction is what may essentially be responsible for many health issues that C-section babies tend to encounter later on in life.
Increased Chance of Hay Fever and Asthma
26 international studies show that children born by C-section are about 20 to 30 percent more likely to develop hay fever and asthma. However, it’s important to note that the causal connection is not yet found. Genetics could also play a role in this because many women who opt for C-section are often asthmatic or obese.
Higher Chance of Obesity
That brings us to the next study findings. A study of 22,068 children, indicated a link between obesity and being born via Caesarian section method. Individuals born through C-section were 15 percent more likely to be obese than those born through vaginal delivery. While this study shows a possible link there are some flaws to it which could potentially affect the outcome. For example, the diet of the mothers’ was not accounted for which could affect the baby’s weight, babies born through C-section were less likely to be breastfed which was previously linked to obesity, and finally the study used self-reported information which could have been inaccurate. This study has been since covered in nearly all major news outlets, but it should be taken with a grain of salt.
One of the first connections made between C-section babies and health disorders was in 2010. A study of 1950 children showed a link between Celiac disease and Caesarian delivery. Another study in 2016 found the same thing but also concluded that repeated maternal urinary tract infections can contribute to this increased risk while high income and high maternal age may reduce the risk of CD.
There are quite a few studies linking the method of delivery with chances of developing certain disorders. However, many of these studies also mention genetics, infant-feeding practices, and lifestyle as a possible factor of increased risk of these disorders.
The importance of bacteria and their role in our bodies is not debatable. So perhaps it is likely that the way we enter the world could impact us later on in life. While many other factors play into our immune system, these studies could explain why c-section babies could be more susceptible to developing allergies, type 1 diabetes, Celiac disease, obesity and other disorders.
Hope for Future C-section Babies
As this subject is studied further, some scientists have proposed a possible solution to future C-section babies. The solution is based on the premise that when a woman is pregnant, her birth canal microbe composition begins to alter. Babies acquire these microbes and by the time the baby is born it is colonized by the microbes. Babies who aren’t delivered through the birth canal (C-section babies) don’t get these microbes. So scientists are testing the idea that exposing the baby to their mother’s vaginal fluid could normalize their microbiome. The way this works is a doctor puts a piece of gauze in the birth canal of a woman giving birth through C-section before the baby is born to soak up any microbes. After the baby is born they swab the baby’s mouth, face and the rest of the body with this gauze.
So far, the scientists were able to promote the growth of two types of bacteria which are considered to be helpful, Bacteroides and Lactobacillus. However, this method has not yet successfully reproduced the exact combination of the microbes that tends to be present in babies who are born regularly. Also, what’s even more important than the initial findings is the follow-up later on in life to see if this decreases the chances of certain diseases for c-section babies. We may have to wait a few years to find out if this is effective but it shines some hope for future C-section babies.
Here’s What You Can Do
As a C-section baby myself, I am happy to hear about a hopeful future for children born through C-section, however, what about those who have already missed the opportunity? Much of my younger childhood was spent being sick. While my immune system seems much stronger now, even in my late twenties, I find myself often experiencing rashes and sensitivities to different types of foods, certainly more so than my peers. While there are many factors that play into the way our bodies function, there seems to be a link between how our bodies function and the way we were born.
So what can we do if we may be more prone to weaker immune systems or certain disorders? Our biggest weapon is knowledge. Knowing your weakness is your greatest strength. If you know your weakness you can help your body overcome it.
Avoid things that can contribute to developing the disorders mentioned above and most importantly supply your body with the necessary fuel to be healthy and defend itself. You should first consult with your doctor before making any drastic changes. However, most of the things that contribute to these diseases are most likely best to be avoided or at least minimized anyway. Many lifestyles and diet choices can prevent your body in functioning properly and can distract it from using its power where and when you need it most. Prevention is the best medicine.
Boost Your Immune System Naturally
Probiotics, vitamins and a healthy diet can help your body perform at its best and help boost your immune system, naturally. Unlike medicine, “natural medicines” like probiotics, vitamins, healthy foods and exercise can enhance your body’s natural abilities without interfering with natural processes. Your body has all the necessary tools within but it’s up to you that they get all the fuel you need in order for your body to function like an ultimate machine.
Listen To Your Body
Through my own experience, I found that slowly developing a healthy lifestyle has helped me become much stronger. I found that another major key was listening to my body. If I constantly experience negative effects from dairy, gluten, and sugars, I tend to minimize or even eliminate them from my diet. Whenever I cheat and indulge myself my body is quick to remind me why it’s a bad idea. Any symptom that you experience can be a subtle or not so subtle hint that something is wrong. Don’t ignore them but also don’t consume yourself in looking for them either.
So fellow C-section babies, listen to your bodies, actively prevent health issues by migrating into a more healthy lifestyle, help enhance your body’s natural abilities and flourish! You may not have the luxury not to, which is not necessarily a bad thing.