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There was a fascinating documentary in the Horizon strand on BBC Two last night which investigated the theory that childhood allergies and asthma are caused by lack of exposure to a range of micro-organisms. The standout was this part of the theory:

Scientists believe the bacteria that babies are exposed to in the birth canal somehow help protect them from allergies, and the rise in Caesarean births may be making children more allergic.
Babies born by c-section do not get exposed to these bacteria - which change in the woman's birth canal in preparation for vaginal delivery - but a completely different range within the hospital's maternity unit. Other factors in providing babies with the full range of the "good" organisms are breast feeding and the greater time spent indoors compared to earlier generations.

While not explaining the theory, this US childbirth site explains the observations around c-section births.

Babies born by cesarean section are more likely to have breathing problems and to develop several chronic diseases: childhood-onset diabetes, allergies with cold-like symptoms, and asthma in childhood and beyond
I came to that site while looking for the rates of birth by c-section in the USA to compare to the approximately 25% in the UK. The site goes into some of the reasons why the rate in America higher at over 30%, including some pretty worrying comments about doctor's practices in not promoting it however this was the real kicker:
Many health professionals are feeling squeezed by tightened payments for services and increasing practice expenses. The flat "global fee" method of paying for childbirth does not provide any extra pay for providers who patiently support a longer vaginal birth. Some payment schedules pay more for cesarean than vaginal birth. Even when payment is similar for both, a planned cesarean section is an especially efficient way for professionals to organize their hospital work, office work and personal life. Average hospital payments are much greater for cesarean than vaginal birth, and may offer hospitals greater scope for profit.
(For clarity, rates vary across the UK and "efficiency" is often given as a reason why individual health areas have much higher rates than others.)

So by directly or indirectly encouraging c-section births, the US "health" system is contributing to ill health. From NBC News:

Allergies triggered by food or the environment have risen sharply in U.S. children in recent years, especially among more affluent families, according to a large government study. The "epidemic" rise in allergies, as one expert describes it, is of concern because it increases the risk of potentially fatal respiratory diseases or disfiguring skin conditions that could require long-term care.

The latest data, released on Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control, showed the prevalence of food allergies increased in children under age 18 from 3.4 percent in 1997 to 5.1 percent in 2011. Skin allergies rose from 7.4 percent to 12.5 percent in the same time period.

Higher income groups would instinctively appear to have greater numbers of doctor-directed births. Studies also show that foreign born children living in the USA have lower rates of allergies than those born in the USA. After living in the "hygenic" conditions in the USA, their resistance to allergies lowers.

Maybe doctors who are keen on slicing into women's uterises should remember the Hippocratic oath:

I will use treatments for the benefit of the ill in accordance with my ability and my judgment, but from what is to their harm and injustice I will keep them
Let me make it clear, there are good reasons why some women have to give birth in this way however the factors listed by childbirthconnection.com have nothing to do with these.  Very careful prescribing of antibiotics in early childhood is also important. As important though is that parents allow their children to be exposed to a whole range of different organisms especially in their first year. The adage that a bit of dirt does you good seems to be more than an old wife's tale. The simplest way is often just to go outside - posh nannies used to take their charges out on daily walks in their pram come rain or shine. (Nannies used to do a lot of other things I would NOT endorse - a teaspoon of alcohol or holding the child over an unlit town gas burner is definitely frowned upon as a way of getting them off to sleep). "Fresh air" even in the middle of polluted cities was recognized as "good for baby" - in the USA there was a fashion to hang baby cages from windows of tenement buildings to enable this, even Eleanor Roosevelt had one!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    "Come to Sochi, visit the gay clubs and play with the bears" - NOT a Russian advertising slogan.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 07:36:17 AM PDT

  •  They're Already Developing a Workaround, They (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo

    take swabs of the birth canal and after cesarean delivery they dab the baby's mouth.

    One of the big components of that bacterial colony is milk digesting bacteria so apart from whatever allergenic issues they may help, they also aid the newborn's immediate nutritional situation.

    Probably the most famous disease of "excess"  hygiene was polio, which turned out to be a ubiquitous harmless bug for newborns and infants, but in the more hygienic industrializing world, infections weren't happening until older in childhood when the consequences were paralysis and death.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 08:03:22 AM PDT

  •  About this quote from your post (0+ / 0-)
    a planned cesarean section is an especially efficient way for professionals to organize their hospital work, office work and personal life.
    A doctor who views C-sections this way is probably not going to be an OB, given how hard it is to do that particular job at all these days.

    We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

    by Samer on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 08:07:41 AM PDT

    •  I knew at least one OB (0+ / 0-)

      who, when he was going on vacation, had all his patients who were near their due date come in for inductions. A large percentage ended up with C-sections. Many inductions do, in fact, end up being C-sections if they are done before the cervix is "ripe".  During the relatively brief time I worked neonatal, we used to say that induction was a major cause of C-sections.

      Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

      by Jilly W on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 11:26:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The importance of the microbiome. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo

    Normal microflora have been studied for quite a while with respect to their contribution to health and disease.  So, this comes as no surprise that once again, by disrupting a normal event, we are creating a "disease of the civilized world."

    An interesting current blog on what is found with respect to immune function and phenotypic variability is from the NCSE.

    The role of the microbiome in immune development and health is significant.

  •  Your title is an excellent example of a common (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tarkangi, historys mysteries

    logical fallacy, the false attribution of agency. Insurance companies may be agents, but they don't cause allergies.

  •  I had two kids, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    historys mysteries

    both VBs. One had allergies which caused severe ear problems. The other has only mild hay fever. I think it's something else.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Aug 29, 2014 at 08:35:52 AM PDT

    •  Many problems may be caused (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lily O Lady

      By alternative factors. Epilepsy, for one, is really a symptom or syndrome with a multitude of possible causes, alone or in combination.

      I also was a VB (although very premature), played in the dirt, had all the childhood diseases (except whooping cough), but still have massive (non-food, thank goodness) allergies, including an actual allergy to the sun.

      But that doesn't mean this isn't a cause of a fair number of allergy problems.

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