Babies born by elective cesarean section are more likely to get a serious respiratory infection in the first year of life, a study found.
Babies born by C-section had an 11 percent greater chance of being hospitalized for bronchiolitis, researchers at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research in Perth, Western Australia found. The study, published in the online edition of the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, is based on birth data and hospitalization records of 212,068 babies over a 10- year period in Western Australia.
Bronchiolitis, generally caused by respiratory syncytial virus, is one of the most common reasons for babies to be admitted to hospital. Bronchiolitis also has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of asthma in children, the researchers said in a statement today.
The study supports the need for more research into the suspected role of various chemicals called cytokines that are produced by mothers during labor in priming a newborn’s immune system, the researchers said.
“It is increasingly plausible that delivery without labor could impair a newborn’s immune system and may also explain the known link between c-sections and an increased risk of asthma,” said Hannah Moore, the lead author of the study. “Given that cesarean rates are rising in Australia, this potential impact on the immune system might be another factor that parents and doctors may consider if choosing a cesarean for other than medical reasons.”
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