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While most of us think that choosing a birth method is not really significant or not even in our hands, it may be time to reconsider this. Lately, the number of caesareans has gone up dramatically. The fear of pain through vaginal births is causing many women to opt for C-sections. It is also recommended by many private hospitals, often for reasons not completely noble. And sometimes, there are complications in pregnancy that mandate this. But what if we tell you there are severe risks posed by C-section births that go well beyond the hospital table?
It is long known that the birth weight of a baby and the mother’s age play an important role in the development of the child’s cognitive functioning. But not much focus has been given to the actual birth procedure and its effect on the baby’s thinking ability. But a new study recently revealed that there can be brain development issues in babies born via C-sections! The technique of this common delivery procedure tends to affect at least one part of a baby’s ability to concentrate.
This experiment, conducted by researchers at the York University in Canada, included two phases of tests. The first phase was a spatial cueing task which tested 24 babies’ attention driven by a particular stimulus. A cue was placed near their line of vision to direct their vision to a certain target. This helped the infants quicky move their eyes towards the place of the target. The second phase of tests involved a cognitive-based stimulus.
The researchers Dr. Adler and Dr. Wong-Kee-You, who led this research, did a comparative study on babies born through vaginal births and those born via C-sections. These were their discoveries on the 3 month-old infants who participated in the study. The findings below are quite alarming for C-section babies and their moms!
C-section Babies May Have Weaker Attention
The study revealed that C-section seems to trigger slower development of spatial attention. This is the function that plays a role in how well babies can focus on a particular object at a time.
C-section Babies May Have Issues With Eye Movement
On studying the eye movement of babies born via C-section, the researchers found that these babies’ eyes could not move to an object or direction at which they were not directed. The stimulus-driven experiment led researchers to notice that the babies that were born via C-section births were slower to jerk their eyes towards the object than those born through vaginal births.
C-section Babies are Prone to Asthma, Type 1 Diabetes and Obesity
While this is not a new finding, the study does raise fresh concerns. It has been known for some time that vaginal birth babies possess good bacteria which pass from mother to baby. This helps protect them against the above diseases – an advantage that C-section babies miss out on.
Now whether these effects will last a lifetime is still unclear. But the one observation that is definite is that due to the technique of C-sections, the babies’ brain development was impacted. This impact was such that they were unable to initially allocate their spatial attention to an object or person. That said, there is also some evidence from older studies that proves that C-section babies do experience effects in early development. Ultimately, this research suggests that the health of both mother and baby is significantly at risk with C-section births as they could lead to infections or, in worst cases, even death. This is why most experts suggest that unless it is medically necessary, mothers should avoid this way of delivering.
These findings are unnerving. They can make you paranoid about your delivery and dread the possibility of a C-section. However, please remember that your doctor and medical professionals will do their very best to make sure you and your baby come to no harm. Medical procedures have advanced considerably over the last few years and the risks of injury and infection from C-section have come down. However, it will be in your best interest to follow a healthy lifestyle when expecting and take heed of these tips to avoid a C-section if possible. Also, you should have a discussion with your doctor about this while planning for your delivery. There is no reason for anyone to judge or criticise you for having a C-section birth – it is as much “real” as a normal delivery and heck, very painful indeed after the delivery if not during! But we ask you to exert this caution not for any societal reasons but for your and your baby’s well-being. Take care!