Washington D.C, Feb 24 (ANI): With a trend known as “vaginal seeding” on the rise, experts fear that it could grow into a health disaster for the newborns.
The practice involves swabbing the vagina of women, who are going to have a cesarean delivery, and then wiping the fluids on the baby. The hope is to give the baby the bacteria it would have been exposed to during vaginal delivery and help kickstart a healthy gut microbiome.
The experts warn that newborns may develop infections from exposure to vaginal bacteria and suggest that encouraging breast feeding and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics may be much more important.
The potential benefits of vaginal seeding have recently been reported in the press and, as a result, demand has increased among women attending the hospitals, Imperial College London’s Aubrey Cunnington and colleagues wrote in an editorial.
However, they point out that there is currently no firm evidence that vaginal seeding is beneficial to the infant and warn that newborns may develop severe infections from exposure to potentially harmful vaginal pathogens from the mother.
As a result, they have advised staff at their hospitals not to perform vaginal seeding because they believe “the small risk of harm cannot be justified without evidence of benefit.”
However, they acknowledge that mothers can easily do it themselves and say under these circumstances “we should respect their autonomy but ensure that they are fully informed about the theoretical risks.”
Parents should also be advised to mention that they performed vaginal seeding if their baby becomes unwell “because this may influence a clinician’s assessment of the risk of serious infection,” they add.
Parents and health professionals should also remember that other events in early life, such as breast feeding and antibiotic exposure, have a powerful effect on the developing microbiota, they note, concluding that “encouraging breast feeding and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics may be much more important than worrying about transferring vaginal fluid on a swab.”
The study appears in The BMJ. (ANI)