Vaginal seeding: What is it and why is it an unsafe practice?

This method was applied for caesarean babies since studies showed that the process can partially reduce the difference between the biomes of babies delivered by different methods.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The past few years have witnessed many medical breakthroughs, some of which went on to become trends. Vaginal seeding is the latest medical trend to surface in this respect.

For those of you aren't aware, vaginal seeding is the procedure in which vaginal fluids (vaginal microbes) are applied to a newborn's mouth, if delivered through a caesarean section, in order to provide an equivalent environment as experienced by a baby delivered normally, that is, vaginally.

This method was applied for caesarean babies since studies showed that the process can partially reduce the difference between the biomes of babies delivered by different methods.

The idea behind vaginal seeding, also known as microbirthing, is that this may boost the baby's gut bacteria and reduce the risk of conditions such as allergies or obesity.

New studies, however, have backtracked on the previous findings and said that the procedure is actually harmful for the babies!

It is a well-known fact that babies born vaginally are exposed to lots of favourable bacteria known as microbiota when they travel down the birth canal. The bacteria which help babies digest their first meal are also included in that.

Babies born through caesarean sections miss out on some of this natural goodness. This difference in microbiota is said to be still measurable after months and possibly even years after birth. This is where the idea of “vaginal seeding“ comes into play, to try and correct that balance and restore some of the good bacteria to the baby.

Recently, in a paper published on February 23rd in the journal BMJ, the authors said that vaginal seeding can introduce harmful bacteria and pathogens to a baby and might result in a serious infection.

Many hospitals, clinics and other healthcare establishments have now been advised against the practice.