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New mothers could be putting their babies at risk of serious infection by following a trend called vaginal “seeding” experts have warned.
Doctors have said there was no evidence that transferring “protective” bacteria from the mother’s birth canal after a caesarean section helped protect newborns from infection.
Instead they warned the procedure, also known as microbirthing, could give babies deadly infections or sepsis.
A report, published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said more than 90 per cent of Danish obstetricians said they had been asked about vaginal seeding.
It said there was no evidence of any benefit to seeding as there was only one proper study of the technique and it involved just four babies.
Dr Tine Dalsgaard Clausen, consultant obstetrician at Nordsjaellands Hospital, Denmark and lead author of the study, said more research is needed to understand if vaginal seeding lowered the risk of babies born by c-section developing chronic conditions later in life.
“Currently there is no evidence to show that the potential long-term benefits of vaginal seeding outweigh the risks or costs associated, however, we encourage researchers to investigate vaginal seeding further and would support patients’ participating in safely controlled clinical trials.”
She advised women to “avoid unnecessary [Caesarean] sections, aim for breast feeding for at least half a year and have early skin-to-skin contact” all of which has a beneficial impact on a child’s microbiome.
Parents using the trend hope the exposure to bacteria will boost their baby’s immune system, thereby preventing illness and disease in future.
When babies are born vaginally they are exposed to a range of beneficial bacteria while moving down the birth canal.
Dr Patrick O’Brien, from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the BBC: “There is no robust evidence to suggest that vagina seeding has any associated benefits.
“We would therefore not recommend it until more definitive research shows that it is not harmful and can in fact improve a child’s digestive and/or immune system.”
In the UK, one in four babies are born via Caesarean section.
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