The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has spoken out to warn expectant mothers against 'vaginal seeding'. The Independent reports that the new trend sees mothers who have caesarean births “seeding” their babies via cotton swabs with their vaginal microbes. The thinking behind the trend is that babies born through C-section don’t receive certain “helpful” vaginal microbes from the birth canal when they’re born, which could help protect them from allergies, asthma and other illnesses.
Doctors say vaginal seeding is on the rise, but they do not recommend the procedure. “Due to the lack of sufficient data, the very real risks (of vaginal seeding) outweigh the potential benefits,” said Dr Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in the report. “By swabbing an infant’s mouth, nose or skin with vaginal fluid after birth, the mother could potentially, and unknowingly, pass on disease-causing bacteria or viruses,” he explained. If a mother has an STI she doesn’t know about – such as chlamydia – there’s a risk it could be passed on to the baby.
Ob/gyn Dr Jennifer Wu, from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City agreed that there are “very real risks” associated with vaginal seeding. “Certain viruses, such as group B strep and herpes, can cause serious illnesses such as meningitis in new-borns,” she said. Herpes can be symptomless in adults but potentially fatal in babies if it spreads to their organs.
Instead, the report says, the doctors recommend a much simpler way to give a new-born the healthy bacteria he or she needs: breastfeeding. “Breastfeeding for the first six months is the best way to overcome the lack of exposure to maternal vaginal flora at birth,” Zahn said.
“The bacteria present in breast milk and on the nipple is sufficient for natural colonisation or seeding of the gut. There may be some initial difference in the gut (microbes) of infants based on mode of delivery, but research has shown that difference disappears after about six months.”
According to Dr Mitchell Kramer, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York, further research into vaginal seeding needs to be done before the practice can be recommended.
[link url="http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/vaginal-seeding-birthing-trend-bacteria-microbes-viruses-stis-infection-diseases-mothers-a8020981.html"]The Independent report[/link]