While we previously reported on the possible benefits of vaginal seeding for babies born via C-section, a new report in the medical journal BMJ warns that ‘vaginal seeding’ may carry some unforeseen risks. The practice involves swabbing babies born via Cesarean section with their mothers’ vaginal secretions, which is intended to help transfer healthy bacteria and immunity from mother to child — similar to what happens naturally in a vaginal birth. Essentially, experts are saying that there is no proof that the practice of ‘seeding’ is beneficial to C-section babies, but that there are reasons to believe it could pose risks. The danger? Mothers who choose to ‘seed’ their infants may unwittingly expose them to harmful pathogens that didn’t create symptoms in the mother, but could make a newborn very sick. These include Group B streptococcus (which mothers are often tested for prior to delivery), herpes, or gonococcus, the bacteria which causes gonorrhea. Granted, this would also be the case for a baby born via vaginal delivery, since they are exposed directly to the bacteria in the mother’s birth canal — both healthy bacteria and otherwise. At least one study on ‘seeding’ has shown that infants wind up with some, but not necessarily all, of the pathogens they would have picked up through a vaginal birth. As the practice is still relatively new, there are no studies suggesting the long-term effects of it.
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