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Smearing vaginal bacteria on C-section babies may not yield desired results

| | February 25, 2016
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A growing number of soon-to-be parents planning for a cesarean section are also asking for a newer secondary procedure: wiping the newborn with mom’s vaginal fluids. The hope is that vaginal swabbing could restore the microbiomes of babies that miss out on the birth canal. But doctors are cautioning that little research has been done on the procedure, and the risks and benefits aren’t clear.

“It’s not really right to expect a health professional to do something that isn’t of any proven benefit and may carry a risk of harm,” said Dr. Aubrey Cunnington, an infectious diseases specialist who penned an editorial on the subject published in the British Medical Journal.

The risk is that mothers may be carrying certain viruses or bactera — like the ones that cause chlamydia and genital herpes — and not realize it. Babies born by C-section are typically spared exposure to those viruses, but the swabbing could reintroduce that risk. It’s also unclear if the procedure has any negative long-term effects on a baby’s health, since no longitudinal research has been done on the subject.

If parents take the DIY approach, Cunnington said it’s crucial they let their child’s doctor know. Take, for example, babies exposed to chlamydia during birth; they often turn up with nasty eye infections. Doctors might think babies are safe from chlamydia because of a C-section delivery — when, in fact, the baby was swabbed with vaginal microbes.

Read full, original post: Why ‘vaginal swabbing’ your newborn might not be a good idea

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