ROUGHLY one human pregnancy in ten presents complications (for example, breech presentation) that might justify the baby being delivered by Caesarean section. In some places that is not possible, and mother and infant have to take their chances with a normal delivery. But the opposite is also true. Elective Caesarean is becoming more and more common. In Brazil, Italy and Iran more than 40% of children are born this way.
That a stressful and expensive procedure is being conducted more often than is strictly necessary has long been a concern. But, more recently, a second worry has emerged. This is that Caesarean section stops infants picking up, from their mother’s vaginas and perineums, bacteria that would normally establish themselves in a newborn’s gut, and by doing so improve its future health. Accumulating evidence suggests three things, in particular. These are that Caesarean babies are more prone than others to allergies (in which the immune system responds to…Continue reading