A scientist has said that babies delivered vaginally receive protective bacteria as they pass through the birth canal.
Infants born by caesarean section, however, are more vulnerable to asthma, allergies and infection as they miss out on receiving mothers' good bacteria, according to Professor Patricia Conway, of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of NSW.
According to the expert, the bacteria, left on the baby's skin, could then colonize the intestine and help inoculate newborns against hospital bugs, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
Gut flora was also crucial for developing a balanced immune system, Professor Conway said.
"With a C-section, the newborn baby misses an opportunity to pick up a lot of mum's good bacteria," she said.
She added: "This can have long-term health implications, as the development of a good intestinal ecosystem is necessary for health and immunity to allergies, from childhood right through to adulthood."