... babies born by Caesarean section experience changes to the DNA pool in their white blood cells, which could be connected to altered stress levels during this method of delivery ...
It is thought that these genetic changes, which differ from normal vaginal deliveries, could explain why people delivered by C-section are more susceptible to immunological diseases such as diabetes and asthma in later life, when those genetic changes combine with environmental triggers.
... "Delivery by C-section has been associated with increased allergy, diabetes and leukaemia risks" ... "Although the underlying cause is unknown, our theory is that altered birth conditions could cause a genetic imprint in the immune cells that could play a role later in life.
... As the diseases that tend to be more common in people delivered by C-section are connected with the immune system, we decided to focus our research on early DNA changes to the white blood cells."
The authors point out that the reason why DNA-methylation is higher after C-section deliveries is still unclear and further research is needed. "Animal studies have shown that negative stress around birth affects methylation of the genes and therefore it is reasonable to believe that the differences in DNAmethylation that we found in human infants are linked to differences in birth stress. "We know that the stress of being born is fundamentally different after planned Csection compared to normal vaginal delivery. When babies are delivered by Csection, they are unprepared for the birth and can become more stressed after delivery than before. This is different to a normal vaginal delivery, where the stress gradually builds up before the actual birth, helping the baby to start breathing and quickly adapt to the new environment outside the womb."
... "C-section delivery is rapidly increasing worldwide and is currently the most common surgical procedure among women of child-bearing age. Until recently, the long-term consequences of this mode of delivery had not been studied. However, reports that link C-section deliveries with increased risk for different diseases in later life are now emerging. Our results provide the first pieces of evidence that early 'epigenetic' programming of the immune system may have a role to play." The authors feel that their discovery could make a significant contribution to the ongoing debate about the health issues around C-section deliveries.