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Vaginal seeding

A process of giving babies born by caesarean section a swab of the mother's vaginal fluids in the belief that it will 'seed' their immune systems to help protect them from developing conditions such as asthma, food allergies and hay fever in later life. The concept has been promoted by advocates of the human microbiome model, who believe that the immune systems of babies born by caesarean section do not develop as fully as if they had been born vaginally. However, maternity staff have been advised against the process which may carry the risk of infections from exposure to vaginal bacteria, and encouraging breast feeding and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics may be more important. Mothers can easily do it themselves, and midwives should respect their automony - but should warn mothers of the potential risks.

Further reading

Aubrey Cunningham, Kathleen Sim, Aniko Deieri et al. Vaginal seeding of infants born by caesarean section. BMJ 2016;352:i227

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