A team of New Zealand researchers will investigate whether bacteria from mothers’ vaginas could protect babies born by caesarean section from a greater risk of obesity.
There is growing evidence linking c-sections to an increased risk of the baby later developing obesity and immune disorders. A large international study last year found children born by c-section were up to 25 percent more likely to become obese than those born by vaginal delivery.
Now a research team led by Professor Wayne Cutfield at the University of Auckland-based Liggins Institute have received $150,000 from the Health Research Council to test a possible reason for this link.
“The hypothesis is that babies born by c-section miss out on receiving health-promoting bacteria from their mother’s vagina during birth,” says Professor Cutfield.
All babies are born with next to no bacteria. During normal delivery their mother’s bacteria colonises them, forming the basis for the baby’s own microbiome – the total bacteria that live inside and on the surface of our bodies, now recognised as playing a crucial role in our health and wellbeing.