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Cesarean Section Linked to Increased Risk of Celiac Disease

A recent study found an increased risk of celiac disease for babies born by cesaren section vs. babies born by natural vaginal delivery. The authors conclude that they are not sure why this association exists…


Pediatrics, online May 17, 2010

Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

This study brings to light a major problem…

Humans are symbiotic (meaning that we rely on a mutual relationship with normal bacteria in our gut to survive). Babies receive their first exposure to large quantities of bacteria while passing through the vaginal canal at birth. Bypassing this natural phenomena leads to the baby’s first exposure coming from hospital air. Unfortunately, hospital air contains large amounts of pathogenic (infectious) bacteria.

Why is this important?

The bacterial flora is one of four immune barriers that protect humans from infection. The normal flora produces essential nutrients like vitamin K and biotin. The normal flora aids in the process of digestion and normal bowel motility. We also know that the bacteria play a role in the development of autoimmune diseases (celiac is an autoimmune disease). Recent studies have shown that gluten intolerance is on the rise. Could C-section overkill be one of the reasons why? If the baby’s flora is initially established by the wrong types of bacteria, the stage is set for increased risk for several problems. Research has linked cesarean births to increased allergies, asthma, atopic dermatitis, eczema, obesity, diabetes, and more.

Should we be asking the question – Why so many C-sections?

The answer is obviously yes. Let’s look at history for a moment. It is not uncommon for doctors to over prescribe medications and surgical procedures. Some good examples include – antibiotics, cholesterol medications as well as tonsilectomy (tonsil removal), and cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) procedures. Another classic historical blunder is telling new moms to formula feed over breast feeding. It is possible that OB/Gyn doctors are over prescribing cesarean too? Food for thought… If you have had experience on this topic, please leave a comment below.

4 Responses

  1. wow. ive been wondering where my food allergies came from. they are not genetic… this makes so much sense. seems like im always saying, “i was fine till after my baby was born!”

  2. Was the study statistically adjusted to include breastfeeding factors ? Because the breastfeeding rate after c-section is lower than vaginal births…and it seems obvious that how a baby is fed will have some influence on coeliac disease.

    That said, my son who has coeliac was fully breastfed to well past 12 months old…but I believe it delayed the onset but didn’t prevent the disease…

  3. Jessica,
    You bring up an excellent point. This study was very generic. We posted it more to make people aware that cesarean can have an overall impact on the newborns health. One of those impacts being an increased risk for celiac disease.

    How is your son’s health today? Did you identify celiac because he was having a problem or was he tested because of a family association?

  4. I had a C-section with my son. I breast fed him for two years. After week two, my stomach was flat for the first time in my life. I believe I transferred all the candida from my body to his. At two months old, his skin looked terrible and his head stuck to my hand. At month 4 he had RSV. He was plagued with chronic sinus infections. For two years we went to the ER for emergency room visits because his throat would close shut. So many steroids, creams and antibiotics. Last year we found out at age 6 he had celiac’s disease. GI told us we may want to cut back on some wheat products. Thankfully I found a provider that is assisting us with gut repair and we are using the Ultra Immune IGG.

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