New Technique Could Give C-Section Babies The Benefits Of Vaginal Birth

In a new procedure, doctors wiped down the skin of newborns delivered by cesarean section with a gauze carrying their mothers’ vaginal fluid.

The doctors found that this was a successful way to transfer beneficial microbes from pregnant women to their infants, a new pilot study suggests.

This small study showed that this swabbing procedure, known as vaginal microbial transfer, can safely and effectively change the microbial communities of babies delivered by C-section to make them more closely resemble those of vaginally born babies, said José Clemente, an assistant professor of genetics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a co-author of the research, published today (Feb. 1) in the journal Nature Medicine.

This is the first time such a procedure to manipulate the microbial communities, or microbiomes, of newborns has been tried in humans, although it has been previously shown to work in mice, Clemente said.

A baby’s method of delivery is known to influence the microbial composition found on the newborn’s skin and in his or her intestinal tract. This early microbial community in newborns may play a role in developing a healthy immune system, and previous research has shown a link between babies delivered by C-section and an increased risk of obesity, asthma, allergies and immune deficiencies compared with babies delivered vaginally, the study said.

In this new study, the researchers collected samples from 18 newborns and their mothers. Seven of the babies were born vaginally, and 11 were delivered by C-section. Four of the newborns born by cesarean section were swabbed with a piece of gauze that had been placed inside the mother’s vagina an hour before her C-section.

To transfer the microbes, within a minute or two of the newborns’ births, the researchers swabbed the babies’ mouths, faces and skin —> Read More