Washington, Feb 25 — Babies born through Caesarian surgery are five times more susceptible to allergies by the age of two years, a new study suggests.
“This further advances the hygiene hypothesis that early childhood exposure to micro organisms affects the immune system’s development and the onset of allergies,” says Christine Cole Johnson, head of the Henry Ford Department of Health Sciences, who led the study.
“We believe a baby’s exposure to bacteria in the birth canal is a major influencer on the immune system,” adds Johnson, according to a Henry Ford statement.
Johnson says C-section (Caesarian) babies have a pattern of “at risk” bugs in their gut that may make them more susceptible to developing the antibody Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, when exposed to allergens. IgE is linked to the development of allergies and asthma.
For the study, Henry Ford researchers sought to evaluate the role of early exposure to allergens and how this exposure affects the association between C-section and the development of IgE.
Researchers enrolled 1,258 newborns from 2003-2007, and evaluated them at four age intervals – one month, six months, one year and two years.
Data was collected from the baby’s umbilical cord and stool, blood samples from the baby’s mother and father, breast milk and household dust.
The study was presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in San Antonio.