C-section Stress Changes DNA

Jul 03, 2009
Babies born with the help of caesarean section have their DNA of immune cells altered, which increases their risk of developing such diseases as asthma and diabetes, a new study says.

Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden studied blood samples of 37 babies born by C-section and by vaginal delivery shortly after the birth and on the third to fifth day after delivery. Swedish scientists evaluated the changes of DNA-methylation in the white blood cells, which play an important role in the immune system. DNA- methylation involves modification of DNA that activates or silence genes that respond to external changes.

The results if the study showed that babies delivered by caesarean section had higher levels of DNA modifications shortly after their birth, if compared to infants born by vaginal delivery.

Scientists suppose that birth conditions influence the genes involved in the immune system , which explain why children delivered by C-section are more likely to have allergies, diabetes, and leukaemia.

It is known that children born by caesarean section experience more stress than children born by vaginal delivery, who adapt to the new conditions better. Further studies are needed to find out the reason DNA-methylation occurs in children born by C-section.