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Delivery Method May Determine the Bacteria Babies Acquire
Date:6/21/2010

linked to vaginal infections, gum disease and the digestion of milk, appear to have been acquired as they passed through the birth canal.

"It's very clear that the moms give the bacteria to the newborn babies. The babies are like magnets," Dominguez-Bello said.

The babies born by C-section harbored germs linked to skin infections, acne, diphtheria and food poisoning.

One theory is that it takes a little longer for babies born via cesarean section to come into contact with germs they need to survive.

"In order to be healthy adults, they'll be have to be colonized and end up having 10 times as many bacteria as their own cells," she said.

Dr. Athos Bousvaros, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, said the study appears to be valid, although it only looked at a small number of babies over a short period of time.

"We don't know if this different colonization will persist over time," he said. Other factors -- antibiotics, genetics and breast-feeding -- may also play a role in how germs colonize babies, he pointed out.

"Pregnant moms should not be overly concerned about having a C-section based on this research," Bousvaros said. "The research does not associate this difference in colonization with the babies developing illness -- babies have been born by C-section for decades, and are generally quite healthy. As always, however, C-section should only be done if deemed medically necessary."

The study findings are published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences for the week of June 21 to 25.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on C-section births.



SOURCES: Maria G. Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., associate professor, department of biology, University of Puerto Rico, S
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