A new study from Perth has found that babies born by elective caesarean are more likely to be admitted to hospital with a serious respiratory infection, bronchiolitis, in the first year of life.
This was a ten-year study that analysed the birth data of over 212,000 babies.
Bronchiolitis is generally caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and is one of the most common reasons for babies to be admitted to hospital. Bronchiolitis also has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of asthma in children, and it is known that babies born by elective caesarean experience more asthma than babies who were born vaginally or born by caesarean after labour had commenced.
Previous research found an increased risk of hospital admissions for respiratory infections in children less than 2 years of age, delivered by elective caesarean.
It is thought that labour stimulates the baby's immune system and strengthens it. babies who are born by elective caesarean do not experience labour, and therefore their immune systems are not primed in the same way.