A recent study associated with McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario has found what appears to be a link between children born via C-section and a higher risk of allergies and asthma. 

To naturopaths, nutritionists and midwives this is probably not something new. Over 2 decades ago, there was good evidence that healthy gut flora (called probiotics) reduced the rate of allergies, asthma, and atopic inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Since then, increasing evidence has only strengthened this association and has illustrated the way healthy gut bacteria influences immune function with greater detail. In the case of newborn infants, children born via a vaginal birth are exposed to the natural bacteria of the birth canal versus those babies who were born via C-section and never exposed to mother’s natural flora. It seems like a subtle difference, but there is no denying that the evidence is convincing, and the mechanism as to why this is happening is quite clear.

Also worth mentioning is the observation that rates of allergies and asthma are on the rise, which is fairly consistent with the increasing rates of C-sections being performed in Canada as a percentage of births, rising at an astonishing rate of nearly 50% every decade. The use of probiotic supplements early after birth will significantly reduce the incidence and severity of asthma in allergies as the child continues to grow, however it is crucial to choose a probiotic intended for use in infants that contains the appropriate species and strains of bacteria in the right quantity.

“This is a first look at what may be a major development” were the words of Dr. Malcolm Sears who was one of several authors of the study. It’s definitely interesting but I would be hesitant to use the word “first” as this is old news that for years has fallen on deaf ears of the conventional medical community.

While I can’t help but feel as though the embracing of “alternative” wisdom by mainstream medicine is encouraging, I also can’t ignore that this information could have significantly limited allergy and asthma related suffering for the past several years if the conventional medical model was more open to an integrated approach, or was at least cognisant of information that has been categorized as conventional medical knowledge in more medically progressive parts of the world such as parts of Europe and Japan. Quite literally, it has only been within the last 5 years or so that functional foods, and the occasional dietary supplement has saddled up next to pharmaceutical drugs or surgeries; otherwise known as “the only two options”.

Medicine is notorious for compartmentalizing their knowledge on a global scale; what is considered alternative or even quackery here in North America is considered mainstream medicine in places like Germany and Belgium. It’s obviously not a matter of which country’s doctors are the craziest, but rather the extent to which the medical program incorporates scientific information into the curriculum after policy, politics and business interests are accounted for. But, I suppose it is a simple reality that “alternative” is a prelude to “mainstream” as we know it.

Source: http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/908350--mac-study-finds-c-section-may-affect-allergy-and-asthma-rates