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Babies Born by C-section More Prone to Developing Allergies, Researchers Say

Feb 25, 2013 08:12 AM EST

A new study finds that babies born by C-section are five times more likely to develop allergies than babies born naturally.

A team of researchers led by Christine Cole Johnson, chair of Henry Ford Department of Health Sciences, has revealed that C-section babies are prone to getting allergies by the age of 2, when they get exposed to allergens in the home such as those from dogs, cats and dust mites.

They believe that babies born by C-section become vulnerable to allergies as they avoid their journey through the birth canal, which would expose them to the mother's bacteria that helps in developing a healthy immune response and protects against allergy, reports Daily Mail.

For their study, the research team evaluated the role of early exposure to allergens and how it affects the link between C-section and the development of immunoglobulin E (IgE).

Researchers enrolled 1,258 newborns from 2003-2007 and evaluated them at four age intervals - one month, six months, one year and two years. They collected data from the baby's umbilical cord and stool, blood samples from the baby's mother and father, breast milk and household dust.

Information about family history of allergy or asthma, pregnancy variables, household pets, tobacco smoke exposure, baby illnesses and medication use was also collected.

Researchers found that the C-section babies have a pattern of "at risk" micro-organisms in their gastrointestinal tract that makes them susceptible to developing IgE (linked to the development of allergies and asthma), when they get exposed to allergens, according to a report by Henry Ford Health System.

"This further advances the hygiene hypothesis that early childhood exposure to microorganisms affects the immune system's development and onset of allergies," lead author of the study Johnson said in a statement. "We believe a baby's exposure to bacteria in the birth canal is a major influencer on their immune system."

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