Babies born via a caesarean section operation are not more likely to develop a food allergy during infancy, according to new research.
- Whether the caesarean was emergency or planned did not make a difference in the findings
- The study also found many peanut and egg allergies resolved themselves by the time the child turned six
- A researcher said children with pet dogs and older siblings were less likely to develop food allergies
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study of more than 2,000 infants found no difference in the prevalence of allergies depending on whether the birth was delivered vaginally or via caesarean.
Of the children born via caesarean, 12.7 per cent had a food allergy compared with 13.2 per cent born vaginally.
It also did not matter whether the caesarean was an emergency or planned, or if it occurred before or after the onset of labour.
The same study also found 30 per cent of peanut allergies and 90 per cent of egg allergies were likely to naturally resolve themselves by the time a child turned six.
Senior research officer at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Rachel Peters, said there had been a rise in both caesarean births and food allergies in the last decade or two, leading to the hypothesis that the two were linked.
Also contributing to the hypothesis was that babies born via caesarean had a different microbial gut composition from those born vaginally — similarly to babies with food allergies.
Associate Professor Peters said the findings would hopefully ease mothers’ minds.
“I think these findings will help assist caregivers in evaluating the risks and benefits of a caesarean delivery, and also provide reassurance for mothers who need or choose to have such intervention that there’s little evidence that their baby will be at an increased risk of food allergy,” she said.
Australia has one of the highest rates of food allergies in children in the world, Associate Professor Peters said, affecting one in 10 infants and one in 20 children over five.
She said children with pet dogs and older siblings were less likely to develop food allergies given their increased exposure to microbes.
Posted , updated