The Link between Asthma and Cesarean Section

October 22, 2009

Is there a link between asthma and cesarean section? This has been the focus of much debate and several research studies have attempted to determine if such a link exists and exactly how it works. Here we take a look at recent findings in layman’s terms so that you can understand the risks.

Does Asthma Lead To C-Section

It is believed that babies born through cesarean section are more likely to develop asthma and associated allergies in childhood years than babies born through vaginal delivery. Although there have been conflicting reports on this supposed link, research continues to strongly suggest that babies delivered through cesarean section are more likely to develop asthma in childhood. A dramatic increase in the incidence of asthma in children has been linked to the corresponding increase in babies delivered through cesarean section.

Why would C-section babies be more likely to develop asthma? The link between asthma and cesarean section can apparently be traced to the development of the baby’s immune system at birth. It is thought that because a C-section delivery keeps the baby from being exposed to certain microbes early in life which are beneficial to the development of the immune system that this puts them at higher risk of developing asthma and other conditions. If this is the case then it would appear that a mother’s choice of delivery method can have an impact on the development of the baby’s immune system which could impact his future health.

A second possible explanation has to do with respiratory processes. Studies have shown there are a higher number of respiratory problems in children born via C-section in comparison to those delivered vaginally. While the findings are not yet considered conclusive and the theory is still being researched, it appears that babies delivered through cesarean section experience more breathing complications after birth because they don’t get as much exposure to stress hormones and compression of the chest—both of which contribute to emptying the lungs of amniotic fluid. This in turn is thought to cause problems in the long run.

So What Does This Mean About Your Labor and Delivery?

It seems that many of the stressful parts of labor are, by nature, designed to boost the baby’s physiological development in ways that we may not have been aware of. This also means that when it comes to choosing a delivery method that women may want to consider the pros and cons of each method before choosing since it may affect the health of your child down the road. Even though none of these findings are totally conclusive yet it still certainly gives you some food for thought.

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