"Microbirth," Sept 2014, 60 minute film

Microbirth: Health Ramifications associated with C-Section birth

SUMMARY:  Learn the long term health ramifications associated with  C-Section birth.  “Microbirth” information every parent needs to view.

Microbirth is a new 60 minute documentary investigating the latest scientific research about the microscopic events happening during childbirth.  As this Press Release explains, latest research is starting to indicate modern birth practices could be interfering with critical biological processes.   From the changes that occur in the human pregnant vaginal microbiome to that microbiome which actually inoculates the baby, be it via C-section or vagina birth, these  events are now showing to have associated consequences for the health of the child and  such could have life-long consequences making our children more susceptible to disease later in life:

Recent population studies have shown babies born by Caesarean Section have approximately:
  • 20% increased risk of developing asthma,
  • 20% increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes,
  • 20% increased risk of obesity,
  • slightly smaller increases with gastro-intestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease, and
  • These conditions are all linked to the immune system.

Does C-section cause these conditions?  Dr Rodney R Dietert, Professor oat Cornell University, says, No. What C-section does is not allow the baby to be seeded with the vaginal microbes.”  Proper seeding of the newborn is an important microbiological process where bacteria is transferred from the mother to the baby in the birth canal.  As a consequence, the baby’s immune system may not develop to its full potential.  Dr Dietert expains, “The immune system doesn’t mature, and the metabolism changes. It’s the immune dysfunction and the changes in metabolism that we now know contribute to those diseases and conditions.”  

Another hypothesis presented inMicrobirth:  the stresses and hormones associated with natural birth could switch on or off certain genes related to the immune system and metabolism.  If a baby is born by C-Section, this might affect these epigenetic processes.  Below is the 2 minute MicrobirthYouTube trailer:

Microbirth should be mandatory viewing for every parent, pregnant women, and physician to better understand the need to care for and nurture the microbiome health pre-conception, in utero, in labor, and post delivery.  Matter of fact, I think it should be viewed in school health education classes so that children better understand the need to care and nurture their microbiome.  Who is in the film Microbirth  reads like a who’s who in research, and if you are a reader of my work, you’ll recognize them all:

Who Is In the film "Microbirth"
Source: http://microbirth.com/about/

The Downloads section of the  Microbirth website contains FAQ, which I am excerpting below, to impress upon my readers the need for them to pass on this information:

Q&A On The Science Behind Microbirth: By Rodney Dietert, Professor of Immunotoxicology, Cornell University
  • If a baby is born with the white waxy vernix, will the microbiomes be washed off or come off when the baby is cleaned, as they usually are right away if they are in a hospital setting?  Or, does the newly seeded microbiomes wash off in a water birth?  Don’t know. Not much if anything has been published on this specific factor. Just on vaginal (and what that includes) vs. Caesarean delivery.
  • How fully seeded can a child get after a C-sectionAs a group, C-section delivered babies have a lower diversity of microbes and lower numbers of some useful bacteria types comprising the microbiome than do vaginal-delivered babies. So they are not as fully complete and also their seeded microbiome is less derived from their mother compared with vaginally delivered babies. Treatments such a the use of vaginal swabs at birth for C-section babies may be helpful for self completion.
  • And what or whose microbiomes is a C-section child getting?  The exact range of sources of the C-section baby’s microbiome remains somewhat uncertain. But it is clear that much less of it is from the mother (particularly for gut microbes) than in vaginally-delivered babies. So for C-section babies, much of their seeding is coming from the surroundings (e.g., the hospital environment, hospital personnel, and patients).
  • Are most of the auto-immune diseases coming from C-section born children?  As a group, C-section delivered babies have a higher prevalence of auto-immune and allergic conditions than do vaginally delivered babies. However, birth delivery mode is not the only factor in risk of immune disorders. Exposure of the parents (particularly the pregnant mom) and the baby or infant to toxic chemicals (e.g., heavy metal, plasticizers, pesticides, air pollutants) and drugs and/or to adverse environmental conditions (low vitamin D, stress/abuse) can also produce immune dysfunction and elevated risk of auto-immune and allergic diseases.
  • Are there children with these listed diseases that were born vaginally?  Vaginally-delivered children can and do get auto-immune and allergic diseases. Their families may have genetic predispositions for these diseases and/or they may have exposed either in utero or early childhood to harmful chemicals or drugs that promote these diseases. For example, a mother with extensive heavy metal exposure or who had multiple rounds of antibiotics and delivered vaginally could have a severely depleted microbiome for seeding her baby. However, as a group, vaginally-delivered children have a lower prevalence for these immune disorders than occurs with C-section delivered babies.
  • If so, where do their diseases originate?  Immune and inflammatory disorders such auto-immune and allergic diseases are thought to originate via a combination of family genetics, prior family-related exposures (epigenetics) and current early life environment. The developing immune system is programmed for dysfunction and as the child matures, improper immune-related responses to environmental challenges (e.g., childhood infections) show up as auto-immune, allergic or inflammatory conditions. Because the microbiome helps to train the immune  system as to what is friend or foe, a complete and useful microbiome helps to reduce the risk of these diseases.
  • Has there been a study done regarding this?  Yes. Many studies have examined the causes and triggers of immune disorders such as childhood asthma, type 1 diabetes and celiac disease as well as the role of the microbiome in controlling immune maturation and affecting the risk of these diseases.
  •  Is the young child still getting “microbiomes” if they continue nursing past babyhood?  The young child would still have some exposure to the mother’s microbes that may help to fill in any remaining blanks. However, it is the breast milk that nurtures the gut microbes and helps the baby’s microbiome to mature that is probably the more important factor. Exposure to the microbes early is important because that is when the immune system needs to see the microbes the most for effective immune maturation.
  • If a mother stops nursing after a few weeks, has the baby not been fully seeded? When does seeding stop?  Most seeding occurs during the first year with the majority of that probably occurring during the first few months. However, if the infant has received antibiotic treatments, the microbiome may need to be reseeded at least in part.
  • What about recent research indicating the baby’s microbiome may be seeded before birth?  The film Microbirth” does not say that the only exposure to microbes is at birth. In fact, the film points out prenatal exposure to bacteria and/or bacterial products is likely to occur. But it makes the point that birth and the period surrounding it appears to be the single most important seeding event that:
    1. Determines whether self completion of the infant fully occurs (complete seeding of the microbiome) and
    2. Promotes necessary postnatal immune maturation. If prenatal exposure were adequate for self completion, then C-section-delivered babies would not (as a group) have restricted microbiomes and elevated risk of later–life non-communicable diseases (when compared to the group of vaginally delivered babies)
"Microbirth," Sept 2014, 60 minute film
Source: http://microbirth.com/downloads/
Important posts related to Newborn Microbiome and which contains the study citations/links:

The film’s co-Director Toni Harman says, “The very latest scientific research is starting to indicate that the microscopic processes happening during childbirth could be critical for the life-long health of the baby. We are hoping Microbirth” raises awareness of the importance of “seeding the microbiome” for all babies, whether born naturally or by C-Section, to give all children the best chance of a healthy life. This could be an exciting opportunity to improve health across populations. And it all starts at birth”.  

Now that you’re lucky enough to know… do your own part and pass this post on: to your friends, your Facebook, your twitter, your doctors…  Let’s make this world a better place for its children.

Microbirth launched via hundreds of Premiere Screenings around the world on September 20th 2014 and more are planned, or you can own it or rent it at  Microbirth“.

Updated results:   The article, Scientists swab C-section babies with mothers’ microbesreports on the first results of swabbed babies.  The study can be found at Partial Restoration of the Microbiota of Cesarean-born infants by Vaginal Microbial Transfer. The cohort: 7 vaginal birth infants and 11 C-section birthed infants (4 were swabbed).  After 1 month, the 4 C-section infants swabbed had skin, gut, anal, and oral microbiomes more like those vaginal born.  In a follow-up study looking at 75 infants after 1 year,  Dominquez-Bello says, “After one year, I can tell you how the baby was born with pretty high precision [swab, vaginal, or C-section].” To determine long-term consequences to BMI, allergy, or asthma you would need ~1200 infants and follow would be 3-5years. Last updated: February 15, 2017 at 15:46 pm

In health through awareness,


6 thoughts on “Microbirth: Health Ramifications associated with C-Section birth”

  1. I am one of the Producer / Directors of Microbirth and I am absolutely thrilled that you have found, watched and that you recommend our Microbirth film. Thank you so much.

    Just to let you know, our Microbirth movie is now award-winning! Microbirth won the top prize, the Grand Prix Award at the Life Sciences Film Festival in Prague in October 2014.

    If anyone has any questions about the film, please drop the filmmakers a message via the contact form at http://microbirth.com/contact-us/

    To buy the Microbirth DVD or to rent the film – please go to http://microbirth.com

    In addition, universities can purchase streaming rights for their students from Kanopy: https://www.kanopystreaming.com/product/microbirth

    Thanks again for your lovely words Microbirth. We spent two years making the film so it’s great to know that the final result appreciated!

    1. Toni, your “Microbirth” film is extraordinary. Thank you for using your talents to pull together so many key researchers to share what the science is recently discovering, which all of us needs to be aware of. Congratulations on creating such a fine film!

      1. Thank you again. Your words put a spring in my step! I am really proud of the film and I sincerely hope that it does go a long way to raise awareness of the importance of seeding and feeding a baby’s microbiome for lifelong health. Thanks again. Toni

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