Cesarean section may cause epigenetic changes

by Claes Keisu
Illustration depicting Caesarean section. Credit: BruceBlaus/Wikipedia/CC BY 3.0

(Medical Xpress)—A new study from Karolinska Institutet indicates that the mode of delivery could make an imprint in the stem cells of the newborn infant. The finding may be of interest for understanding why individuals born by cesarean section statistically have an increased risk of immunological diseases. However, it is still unclear if this so-called epigenetic mechanism is temporary or remains over time.

Delivery by elective cesarean section is increasing drastically worldwide, and is today the most common surgical procedure in fertile women. Among those born by cesarean section, an increased risk of certain diseases, such as asthma, type 1-diabetes, obesity, and , has been noticed. To date, the causes of this statistical association have not been clarified.

"The biological mechanisms predisposing a fetus or a to get a certain disease later in life are complex and depend on both genetic and during formative years", says Tomas Ekström, Professor of Molecular Cell Biology. "In this study, our focus has been whether the way a baby is born can have an impact on a cellular level in the form of epigenetic alterations in DNA."

Epigenetic changes in the DNA of the cell nucleus occur when environmental factors affects the way the genes are encoded without altering the actual genetic code. Thus, genes can be switched on and off to adapt body functions following the necessities of the surrounding environment. Today, we know that toxic substances or diet can cause , which in some cases can even be passed on to the next generation.

In the current study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers investigated epigenetic alterations in from sorted cord blood. Global epigenetic analysis was then done from 43 infants, of whom 18 were delivered by cesarean section. Finally, DNA from 12 infants (6 cesarean sections) was analyzed for genome-wide locus-specific epigenetic states. The result shows specific epigenetic differences between the groups in almost 350 DNA regions, including genes known to be involved in processes controlling metabolism and immune defense.

"During a vaginal delivery, the fetus is exposed to an increased level of stress, which in a positive way will prepare the unborn baby for life outside the uterus," says Mikael Norman, a pediatrician and Professor of Neonatology. "This activation of the fetus' defense systems doesn't occur when a cesarean section is performed before labor begins, which in turn could be a possible cause for the noticed differences between the groups.

With this new study, researchers hope to add important knowledge for the further understanding of how may impact gene expression in blood stem cells and the function of the immune system in relation to health and disease later in life. However, they also point out that it is still unknown whether the differences that were found in the studied babies remains over a longer period of time, and thus actually have an impact on future disease risk. More research therefore needs to be conducted within this field.

More information: 'Cesarean section and hematopoietic stem cell epigenetics in the newborn infant - implications for future health?' Malin Almgren, Titus Schlinzig, David Gomez-Cabrero, Agneta Gunnar, Mikael Sundin, Stefan Johansson, Mikael Norman & Tomas J. Ekström. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology online 1 July 2014, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2014.05.014

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susanlynn
5 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2014
This article is very interesting. My grandson was born by cesarean section. As an infant, although receiving breast milk he spit up and threw up the entire contents of his stomach a lot. My daughter was told that cesarean babies need stomach enzymes because they do not receive them like other babies because they do not go through the birth canal. My daughter began giving him digestive enzymes and they did indeed help. However, this past February, just prior to his 2nd birthday he developed T1D and is now on insulin 4 times a day. He does not like solid foods - preferring only puree baby food, pistachios, sunflower seeds and the little fish shaped crackers. I cannot help but feel that all of this is tied together...maybe someday it will make sense. Thank you again for this article. If I or my family can do anything to help with research we would be happy to do whatever we can. State Representative Susan Lynn, Tennessee
rp142
1 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2014
A C-section is often done for medical reasons, due to the risks of natural birth to mother or baby from existing medical conditions that are passed on to the baby before birth or other complications. Even though purely elective procedures are increasingly common, it seems likely that there will be a greater proportion of genetically linked conditions passed on from mothers in this group, compared to natural births.

How the study deals with the biased sample will determine whether or not their conclusions have any value or, as with too much medical research, are complete nonsense.
JVK
1 / 5 (7) Jul 04, 2014
http://www.mdpi.c.../12/4800 links our ability to detect fat content of foods to epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of ecologically adapted behaviors via the conserved molecular mechanisms that link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of species from microbes to man.

See for info: http://www.socioa...ew/17338

See for examples: Nutrient-dependent/pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution: a model.
http://www.ncbi.n...24693353

See for details on molecular epigenetics: From Fertilization to Adult Sexual Behavior
http://www.hawaii...ion.html

See for my comments on the importance of nutrition and vitamin D to genomic stability and behavior associated with serotonin: http://comments.s....1248811
JVK
1 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2014
See for pseudoscientific nonsense: anything touted by social scientists in the context of mutations, natural selection, and the evolution of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled biodiversity. For a brief review of that pseudoscientific nonsense, see: http://www.thethi...ion.com/

Creationism and ..."Neo-Darwinism, which has elevated Natural Selection into a unique creative force that solves all the difficult evolutionary problems..., are inconsistent with significant bodies of empirical evidence....There is a need for a more open "third way" of discussing evolutionary change based on empirical observations.

A return to Dobzhansky's way of discussing evolutionary change based on empirical observations is consistent with what was and still is known about the differentiation of cell types by amino acid substitutions and his claim that molecular biology (i.e., not evolutionary theory) is serious science. http://icb.oxford...citation
JVK
1.4 / 5 (9) Jul 04, 2014
Re: State Representative Susan Lynn, Tennessee

It may be time to revisit the issues from the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, TN. The Israeli school system has just begun teaching evolutionary theory in middle school so that their students have an excellent example of pseudoscientific nonsense to compare to what they learn about ecological variation and ecological adaptations.

http://www.educat...olution/

When placed into the perspective of the advances in medicine coming from Israeli researchers, it is easier to see why they have an accurate perspective on conserved molecular mechanisms. Simply put, they have not been taught to believe in a ridiculous theory that has no explanatory power whatsoever.

Dobzhansky (1973) "I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God's, or Nature's, method of Creation." Nothing in Biology Makes Any Sense Except in the Light of ..." ecological adaptation.
otero
Jul 04, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (1) Jul 04, 2014
IMO the children born in natural way are simply infected with bacteria from mother's intestinal tracts, which helps to train their immune system in distinguishing between "god" bacterias in the gut and "bad" bacterias outside. If this theory is correct, then simple http://en.wikiped...otherapy children with body fluids of their mothers could solve their problems in future. BTW My theory of GMO induced allergies is based just on the fact, the proteins of soil bacteria appear in the regular food, which confuses the immune apparatus of humans and bees.


I did see something about that on TV a while ago and some hospitals are now either swabbing C-section newborns faces or mouths with their mothers vaginal fluids. This tactic has been identified in many animal species as a reason why mothers lick their offspring's mouths soon after birth.

Not too sure about "god" bacteria however.
Whydening Gyre
3 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2014
Not too sure about "god" bacteria however.


First the "God" particle... and now a "god" bacteria... When does it ever end?
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jul 06, 2014
And - isn't it actually cAesarian delivery?
someone11235813
3 / 5 (2) Jul 06, 2014
The link might be more subtle than anyone imagines, for example as the article specifically points to elective surgury, then that might call into question the psychological state of the parents and how that may affect the entire growing environment. I'm not saying that there is a causal relationship, I'm just suggesting that the answer appears to be very subtle.
cjn
5 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2014
I did see something about that on TV a while ago and some hospitals are now either swabbing C-section newborns faces or mouths with their mothers vaginal fluids. This tactic has been identified in many animal species as a reason why mothers lick their offspring's mouths soon after birth.


I attended a genetics conference a month or so ago and one of the efforts presented was the relationship between exposure of a fetus/infant to its mothers gut bacteria and its likelihood to have immune disorders or food allergies. In studying a population which premasticated food for infants, the researchers found that the instance of food allergies was quite significantly lower there, than in the general US population.

Work is from LANL, Bioscience Division: "Rare OTUs Reveal oral Microbe Seeding Relationship beterrn Tsimane Mother-Infant Dyads Who Practice Premastication"
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jul 07, 2014
IMO the children born in natural way are simply infected with bacteria from mother's intestinal tracts, which helps to train their immune system in distinguishing between "god" bacterias in the gut and "bad" bacterias outside. If this theory is correct, then simple http://en.wikiped...otherapy children with body fluids of their mothers could solve their problems in future. BTW My theory of GMO induced allergies is based just on the fact, the proteins of soil bacteria appear in the regular food, which confuses the immune apparatus of humans and bees.

Otero - Unfortunately for this line of thought, babies are born from the VAGINAL tract, not the intestinal...
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (2) Jul 07, 2014
Otero - Unfortunately for this line of thought, babies are born from the VAGINAL tract, not the intestinal..
Are you sure about that? You mean these guys have it ass-backwards?? 2nd verse. (warning - this might offend some people w/0 suuffistikaded sense of humors)
https://www.youtu...VmE#t=56

aw I chickened out and used the sannytized vergin.