Catchy headline, sensational picture, and a big question of confusion on my brow: why should cesarian delivery be responsible for changes in genetic expression in the baby's DNA?
To be clear: the scientists claim that DNA methylation – which affects with what frequency genes are expressed – changes at a faster rate for babies delivered by cesarian section than for babies delivered naturally. The article suggests that this rate of methylation change may be responsible for further complications, in particular type-1 diabetes and immune system response – perhaps adding a bit more sensation and scare than necessary.
As a non-biologist and rational thinker, I'd suggest the more logical explanation to be: we know that babies are born on average after 9 months (10 if you count from impregnation), but variances of up to 3 weeks are considered 'normal'. Assuming babies are naturally born when they are 'ripe', a cesarean birth scheduled prior to the natural birth date would be an induced birth before the baby is fully mature, which would be a more likely cause for the higher rate of change than 'natural' births. And, if the baby in question should have been a latecomer, then one month of development time is a lot.
In other words: Maybe if hospitals changed their cesarean birth policy to 'cesarean birth will be performed when the birth pangs start' instead of 'cesarean birth will be performed upon appointment', the rate of DNA change would be identical to that in 'natural' births.
That said, I personally think that unnecessary cesarean complications are not beneficial, extremely costly, and I agree withthat we should think twice before agreeing to a cesearian section.
Cesarean Delivery May Cause Epigenetic Changes In Babies DNA | IFLScience
Babies coming into the world by cesarean section experience epigenetic changes, a study has found. So far there has not been enough follow up to know whether the effects are long lasting, but the discovery may explain the relatively poorer outcomes for babies delivered in this way. Cesarean delivery, where the mother’s abdomen and uterus are surgically cut open to remove the baby, was once a last, desperate option. However, rates are increasing d…