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No Evidence for 'Vaginal Seeding'

Some parents are turning to "vaginal seeding" to expose newborns delivered by caesarian section to the vaginal microbiome, the Guardian reports.

During vaginal birth, babies are exposed to a number of microbes, but those born via C-section are not. BBC News notes that babies born by C-section tend to have higher rates of immune-related diseases. This has led some parents to try a procedure called vaginal seeding where they swab their C-section-born babies with vaginal microbes to restore what they've missed, it adds. In that way, the parents hope to prevent conditions like asthma and allergies.

According to a report in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology by Tine Clausen at Nordsjaellands Hospital in Denmark and her colleagues, more than 90 percent of Danish obstetricians have been asked about vaginal seeding.

But the Guardian notes that there isn't much evidence supporting the practice, and that some doctors further caution that swabbing may do more harm than good.

Clausen tells BBC News that the microbes captured for swabbing might not be the same as those a baby would encounter during birth. She and her colleagues warn that the practice could expose infants to disease-causing bacteria like group-B streptococcus.

"[A]t this point in time, there is no evidence to suggest that the proposed long-term benefits would outweigh the costs and potential risks of implementing [vaginal seeding]," she and her colleagues add in BJOG.