The consequences of micro-managing nature: How medical intervention affects birth outcomes

Modern medicine gives doctors the ability to do many things that were once thought to be impossible, but is there a price to pay for all of these advancements? According to a team of international researchers, some children’s long-term health is suffering as a result of birth interventions.

The researchers analyzed health and population data for nearly half a million mothers whose children were born during the years between 2000 and 2008. The children were followed throughout their first 28 days and then up to five years old. They wanted to find out the link between birth interventions and childhood health, and they examined both operative interventions like cesarean sections and medical interventions like augmentation of labor or induction.

They found that infants who were born by C-section had a higher risk of hypothermia after birth, while those who were born via emergency C-section had the highest rates of suffering metabolic disorders like diabetes and obesity as they got older. Those who had an instrumental birth after augmentation or induction had the highest risk of feeding problems and jaundice. Children who were subjected to any type of birth intervention had the highest odds of eczema and respiratory infections.

The researchers say that a vaginal birth is important because it offers the chance to seed a healthy microbiome in the baby, and they also feel the stress of laboring naturally plays a vital role in epigenetic modulation.

Only healthy women between the ages of 20 and 35 who did not smoke or take drugs were included in the study, and they must have given birth at 37 to 41 weeks of gestation to one baby who was within the typical weight range to be considered. Among those studied, 88 percent were given pain medication in labor, 43 percent were induced or given augmentation during labor, 38 percent experienced a spontaneous vaginal birth, 11 percent underwent an elective C-section, and 7 percent were given an emergency C-section following augmentation or induction.

Next, the researchers would like to carry out another study that uses a longer follow-up period to explore adverse health outcomes that are normally found later in life. Some studies have already pointed to a link between C-sections and asthma, allergies, and abnormal immune function.

Be aware of the risks, but don’t put your life in jeopardy

It’s an important study for women to be aware of as the rate of elective C-sections continues to rise. Many women are opting to go under the knife because they are afraid of childbirth and they feel it takes away some of the unpredictability involved in natural childbirth, but it’s important to realize that even if you are willing to accept the risks of having major surgery, your child could also end up paying the price. It’s also useful information to arm yourself with if you have a doctor who is pushing for an elective C-section, which is typically more profitable and convenient from their point of view.

Sometimes a completely natural childbirth simply isn’t possible. While it’s true that some doctors are quick to give C-sections for the sake of convenience, there are also cases where it’s the only safe option for delivery for the mother, baby or both. In those situations, it’s still useful to be aware of the possible health implications so the child can be monitored. No matter how your child comes into the world, you can still give them a great start by breastfeeding if possible and ensuring they eat healthy, natural foods and get regular exercise throughout their childhood.

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