Babies delivered by Caesarean section at higher risk of asthma and allergies
This is a tiny study that offered NO evidence of clinical significance for the differences observed. Most of it is sheer speculation -- albeit speculation of a conventional sort
Babies delivered by Caesarean miss out on protective bugs that could help prevent a host of disorders in childhood and later life, warn researchers.
They found significant differences in the gut bacteria found in infants born surgically and naturally.
Babies fed formula milk, rather than being breastfed, also lacked bacteria that may be protective, according to a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Researchers said the findings would increase concern about potential lifelong effects for the baby from the soaring rate of Caesareans.
Although emergency Caesarean births can be life-saving, planned surgery is recognised as riskier for mothers because they are more likely to develop complications and spend twice as long in hospital as women having a natural delivery.
The latest study adds to worries about the hazards for infants after previous research suggested children born surgically are at double the risk of obesity in childhood, with a higher risk of developing type 1 diabetes and asthma.
Although the exact reasons are unknown, surgical babies may be missing out on physiological changes that happen during labour including exposure to bugs which are necessary for the immune system to mature.
The rate of surgical deliveries in England is almost 25 per cent, adding up to more than 190,000 a year. In some parts of London one in three hospital deliveries is by Caesarean.
The study looked at data on 24 healthy infants, as part of the larger Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, who were representative of Canadian newborns with 25 per cent born by Caesarean and 42 per cent breastfed exclusively at 4 months of age.
The researchers used new DNA sequencing technology to investigate the gut bacterial composition of the babies, a technique that allows detection of virtually all the bugs present.
Previous studies of this type have been conducted using laboratory cultures, which are limited as about 80 per cent of intestinal microbes cannot be grown in culture.
The researchers found infants born surgically were lacking a specific group of bacteria found in infants delivered naturally, even if they were breastfed.
Infants strictly formula-fed, compared with babies that were exclusively or partially breastfed, also had significant differences in their gut bacteria.
Co-author Dr Anita Kozyrskyj, of the University of Alberta, said: ‘Our findings are particularly timely given the recent affirmation of the gut microbiota as a ‘super organ’ with diverse roles in health and disease, and the increasing concern over rising Caesarean delivery and insufficient exclusive breastfeeding.’
The potential long-term consequences of decisions regarding mode of delivery and infant diet are ‘not to be underestimated’, said the study report.
‘Infants born by Caesarean delivery are at increased risk of asthma, obesity and type 1 diabetes, whereas breastfeeding is variably protective against these and other disorders’ it said.
Researcher Meghan Azad, of the University of Alberta, said: ‘We want parents (and physicians) to realize that their decisions regarding C-section and breastfeeding can impact their infant’s gut microbiome, and this can have potentially lifelong effects on the child’s health.’
Experts believe gut bacteria play a role in stimulating the immune system. Because infants born surgically are not exposed to beneficial bacteria in the birth canal, they might take longer to accumulate good bugs, which delays exposure to microbes that kick start the immune system.
Dr Rob Knight, a scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, United States, in a related commentary, said: ‘Children born by Caesarean delivery or fed with formula may be at increased risk of a variety of conditions later in life; both processes alter the gut microbiota in healthy infants, which could be the mechanism for the increased risk.’
I don't suppose that there is any risk of widespread salt deficiency but it would be a matter of serious concern if there were
Salt has quietly been slipping out of dozens of the most familiar foods in brand-name America, from Butterball turkeys to Uncle Ben's flavored rice dishes to Goya canned beans.
A Kraft American cheese single has 18 percent less salt than it did three years ago. The salt in a dollop of Ragu Old World Style pasta sauce is down by 20 percent. A handful of honey Teddy Grahams has 33 percent less salt. A squirt of Heinz ketchup is 15 percent less salty.
Their manufacturers are among 21 companies that have met targets so far in a voluntary, New York City-led effort to get food manufacturers and restaurateurs to lighten up on salt to improve Americans' heart health, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Monday. While it's unclear whether consumers have noticed the changes, campaigns aim to get more salt out of the national diet in the coming years — a challenge for an ingredient that plays a role in the taste, preservation and even texture of food.
Salt reduction has become a recent focus of public health campaigns in the city and elsewhere. Salt, or sodium chloride, is the main source of sodium for most people.
Sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke. Dietary guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, equal to about a teaspoon of salt; the American Heart Association suggests 1,500 milligrams or less. But average sodium consumption in the U.S. is around 3,300 milligrams, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found.
Officials said the first step was a meaningful one.
"The products they're making healthier are some of America's most beloved and iconic foods," noted Bloomberg, a fan of Subway's meaty Italian BMT sandwiches, which are now 27 percent less salty.
Health officials say Americans get the vast majority of their salt from processed and prepared foods, and not necessarily the foods they'd imagine: Bread and rolls are the No. 1 source.
"The problem is not the salt on the table. The problem is the salt on the label," city Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said.
The amount of salt in any given food item can vary widely. A slice of white bread can have 80 to 230 milligrams of sodium, for example. A cup of canned chicken noodle soup has 100 to 940 milligrams. A 1-ounce bag of potato chips ranges from 50 to 200 milligrams.
In one of a series of healthy-eating initiatives on Bloomberg's 11-year watch, the city announced voluntary salt guidelines in 2010 for various restaurant and store-bought foods. Besides trimming salt levels in the foods by 25 percent by 2014, the campaign aimed to reduce consumers' overall sodium intake by 20 percent in the same timeframe. Interim targets for the foods were set for 2012.
For instant hot cereals, as an example, the guidelines called for a 15 percent salt reduction by last year and a 31 percent cut by 2014.
A company can hit the target for a category, such as canned soup, even if not every product makes the mark.
Boston-based cafe chain Au Bon Pain lowered salt in sandwiches and breads by getting suppliers to use fresh vegetables, whole grains and herbs, CEO Sue Morelli said in a release.