Caesarean section puts babies at risk for allergies

Babies born by caesarean section have a weaker immune system than those born vaginally, which could explain why they are more likely to develop allergies and asthma, a new study says.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists lead by Dr. Ngoc Ly from the University of California at San Francisco. The team measured the immune cells in the umbilical cords of 50 babies delivered vaginally and 68 babies delivered by c-section. Each baby had at least one parent with allergies or asthma.

They found that regulatory T cells, which influence the action of effector T cells – that are involved in immune system development – did not function as well in babies born by caesarean section versus the babies delivered vaginally.

This poor immune system function could lead to the development of allergies or asthma later in life.

"These findings are preliminary and further work is needed to explore potential mechanisms for the association between mode of delivery and neonatal immune responses," explains Dr. Ly.