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C-Sections May Raise Celiac Disease Risk in Offspring

Researchers aren't sure why there could be a link between the mode of delivery and celiac disease, but one possible explanation is that children born via C-section don't pick up the same microbes from their mothers as babies that pass through the vaginal canal, Hornef said. This alters the infant's colonization with gut microflora, or “good” microbes, that aid in digestion and fending off pathogens.

Previous research suggests there are differences in the intestinal bacterial flora between children born vaginally or by C-section.

“We are only beginning to understand the complexity of the host-microbial interaction at the intestinal mucosa, and it is difficult to make firm conclusions at this stage,” Hornef said.

Does any of this suggest that women with a personal or family history of celiac disease avoid C-sections? According to both Green and Hornef, it's too early to make firm recommendations.

“I think our data are not evidence enough to already make a medical recommendation, but rather they shed light on a possibly ill-studied issue,” Hornef said. “The data first need to be confirmed.”

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