Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


C-section babies may benefit from mom's vaginal fluids

06 February 2016, 11:00

Dabbing infants delivered by Caesarean section with their mothers' vaginal secretions restores some of the potentially helpful bacteria that newborns naturally pick up when they pass through the birth canal, a small study found.

The human 'microbiome'

The researchers said their "proof of principle" study is the first to show it's possible to transfer some of those germs, which play a role in immune-system development.

Whether this can protect C-section babies from developing diseases such as asthma remains to be seen, however.

With this experimental technique, the vaginal bacteria "pick up and bloom" in different sites of the baby's body, "resembling vaginally delivered babies", study lead author Maria Dominguez-Bello, associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone in New York City, said in a conference call to discuss the findings.

The study was published online in the journal Nature Medicine.

Everyone has bacteria that reside in and on the body, including the mouth, skin, gut and vagina. Collectively, these communities of germs make up the human "microbiome".

Early exposure to germs, or "microbes," in the birth canal teaches newborns' immune systems to distinguish between helpful and harmful bacteria, the study authors explained.

According to Gregory Buck, professor of microbiology and immunology at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, "Those bacteria can establish themselves in the gut, the skin, the eyes, other orifices of the baby that are exposed."

One in three a C-section

Swabbing a C-section baby with mom's secretions is "a less intensive exposure to the bacteria" than a baby would have during vaginal delivery, said Buck. He is principal investigator of a U.S. National Institutes of Health-funded project examining how vaginal bacteria affect preterm birth.

Scientists believe C-sections disrupt development of the natural microbiome. Caesarean babies have a greater risk of asthma, allergies, obesity and autoimmune diseases later in life, although studies haven't proven a direct cause-and-effect relationship, the authors of the new study said.

In the United States, close to one in three births is a C-section delivery, according to the U.S. National Centre for Health Statistics.

Attempting to restore babies' microbiomes, the NYU team incubated sterile gauze in the mother's vagina one hour before C-section and swabbed the baby's mouth and body with the fluid-soaked gauze within two minutes of birth.

Women with sexually transmitted diseases, bacterial infections of the vagina and other conditions that could expose babies to harmful germs were not allowed to participate, according to the report.

The study involved 18 infants and their mothers, including seven born vaginally and 11 delivered by scheduled C-section. Four of the Caesarean babies were exposed to vaginal fluids at birth.

Six times during the babies' first month of life, researchers collected bacteria from anal, oral and skin sites of all the infants and mothers, resulting in more than 1,500 samples. The investigators analysed the bacteria using DNA sequencing and tracked the maternal source of each baby's microbiome.

'Perhaps there's some benefits'

Caesarean babies exposed to vaginal fluids had bacterial communities that were more similar to vaginally delivered infants than C-section babies who were not exposed to the mother's vaginal fluids, the researchers found.

"Our results establish feasibility, but not health outcomes," Dominguez-Bello stressed.

The research team has "taken an important first step", Alexander Khoruts, of the University of Minnesota, wrote in an accompanying editorial in the journal. While this study was limited in size and duration, he said randomised trials may one day lead to treatments benefiting C-section babies.

Ultimately, researchers hope to follow a larger number of mothers and babies over an extended period of time to determine whether exposure to vaginal fluids affects children's disease risk.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has not weighed in on the technique, and Dominguez-Bello would not offer medical advice.

Study co-author Jose Clemente, assistant professor of genetics and genomic science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said the take-home message is, " 'Don't do this at home.' You want to make sure that this is done in a safe manner to protect the infant."

Dr Philippe Girerd, an obstetrician-gynaecologist in Richmond, Virginia, and faculty member at Virginia Commonwealth University, is an early adopter of the practice. Absent vaginal infections and with mothers' consent, he has swabbed between five and 10 C-section babies with vaginal secretions.

"I don't make claims, but I tell them the literature seems to imply that perhaps there's some benefits," Girerd said.

SOURCES: Jan. 28, 2016, conference call with Maria Dominguez-Bello, Ph.D., associate professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Jose Clemente, Ph.D., assistant professor, genetics and genomic science, Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, both of New York City; Gregory Buck, Ph.D., professor, microbiology and immunology, and Philippe Girerd, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist and faculty member, both of Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va.; Feb. 1, 2016, Nature Medicine, online

- Health24

Tags health

Things a woman shouldn't do after 25

27 October 2016, 12:05

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...