Is it true that having a C-section may affect my baby’s immune system?
Some scientific experts believe that being born by C-section, as opposed to vaginally, alters the cultures within the digestive tracts of infants. This may be because babies born vaginally are exposed to cultures from their moms through this process whereas babies born by C-section aren’t.
When your baby is still in the womb, her digestive tract is sterile. Depending on how she’s delivered, what her immediate surroundings are, and what she’s fed, different types of cultures begin to appear shortly after birth. These cultures help the development and training of her immune system.
The digestive tract is an important part of your baby’s developing immune system. Most of us don’t realize that approximately 70% of the cells of the immune system are found in the digestive tract, and a healthy balance of cultures helps stimulate these cells. Therefore, one of the important functions of your baby’s digestive tract is the natural protective barrier found along its lining. Beneficial cultures help support this natural protective barrier.
You can support your baby’s healthy immune system by breastfeeding. Babies who are breastfed develop an abundance of one type of beneficial culture in their digestive tracts. This naturally protective beneficial culture is found in and promoted by breastmilk, and it’s one reason why experts believe breastfed babies are generally so healthy.
For moms who choose to formula-feed, formula with beneficial cultures can help support your baby’s healthy immune system. These formulas are specially designed to help bring the balance of cultures in the digestive tracts of formula-fed babies closer to that of breastfed babies.
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The START HEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY™ Resource Center panel of experts offers practical advice, answering many questions typically asked by parents and expecting parents.