It has now become a common practice among women these days to have their baby delivered at the requested date and time by a Cesarean Section for religious regions. The trend may not be all that healthy according to a study which has found a link between c-section delivery and higher risk of cavities in newborn and has called for special attention regarding the newborns' oral health. This has been the first study to distinguish between bacterial infection in C-section and vaginally delivered babies.
The research has been focused on a caries-causing bacterium that mothers with caries transmit to their newborns. Known as Streptococcus mutans, the bacterium grows on tooth surfaces and in crannies between teeth just above the gum line, where it multiplies and converts foods, especially those containing sugar and starch, into acids that break into the tooth surface.
C-section deliveries were infected by the bacterium almost a year earlier than vaginally delivered infants according to the study. The first signs of the bacterium appeared at an average of 17.1 months of age in C-section babies, compared to 28.8 months in vaginally delivered infants, a significant finding.
The findings suggest that mothers who have dental caries should inform their family dentists if they had a C-section delivery because of the potentially higher risk that the child would also develop caries.
Dr. Li explained that "Vaginally-delivered infants offer oral bacteria a less hospitable environment; they develop more resistance to these bacteria in their first year of life, in part because of exposure to a greater variety and intensity of bacteria from their mothers and the surrounding environment at birth. C-section babies have less bacterial exposure at birth, and therefore less resistance."
Further study is needed to determine if C-section births can be linked to earlier acquisition of this and other oral bacteria in a broader cross-section of the population, and if a higher incidence of caries follows. It has also to be borne in mind that pregnant women with high levels of oral bacteria associated with dental caries are at risk for delivering preterm low birth weight babies.