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Study: Allergies more likely in children born by C-section

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Researcher Dr. Christine Cole Johnson found children born by C-section are more likely to have allergies.  (Credit: Fox 2 News) Researcher Dr. Christine Cole Johnson found children born by C-section are more likely to have allergies. (Credit: Fox 2 News)
DETROIT (WJBK) -

A new study done at Henry Ford Health System found children born by C-section are more likely to have allergies.  A Westland family is living proof, but what is the connection?

Who would guess that the way eight-year-old Billy and six-year-old Sarah arrived in this world would affect them for the rest of their lives.

"I often wondered at the time having both of them by C-section what types of effects it would have later on," said Karen Kallis.

What mom has learned is eye opening.  Both Billy and Sarah were born by C-section, and now both are battling allergies to foods and animals.  That might not be a coincidence.

"Babies that were not C-sectioned, if they were exposed to the allergen, they did not develop sensitization," said Dr. Christine Cole Johnson.  "If they were C-sectioned, they were more likely to."

Dr. Johnson with Henry Ford Health System's Department of Health Sciences studies allergies and what triggers them.  After following Billy, Sarah and hundreds of other babies for four years, she learned C-section babies are five times more likely to suffer from allergies.

"You can imagine, they're coming to the birth canal, they're getting tons of exposure to bacteria," Johnson said.  "It's good."

All that birth canal bacteria seems to jump-start a sterile baby's immune building process, and that strong immune system is what sets the stage for a normal reaction to allergens instead of a sensitivity.  C-section babies aren't exposed to that type of bacteria.

As for Karen, who has allergies herself, she said if she could do it all over again, she would do everything to prevent allergies in her kids.

"If I had to do it all over again, I would still choose natural delivery," she said.

Dr. Johnson is now studying the impact pets have in a house with a C-section baby.  Those pets may reduce the risk for allergies.

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