Thursday, February 02, 2012

Celiac Disease Risk: Why an Emergency C-section is Healthier than an Elective One

When it comes to celiac disease risk, an elective or planned C-section creates a much greater incidence of celiac disease than an emergency one.
A natural, vaginal birth is probably every mother’s plan, but C-sections, at an increased rate, have become a fact of life.
In a recent study (October 2011) published in Gastroenterology, titled “Pregnancy outcome and risk of celiac disease in offspring: A nation-wide case-control study”, Dr Ludvigsson, an avid researcher in the field discovered a rather unexpected result associated with children delivered by cesarean section.
The study of over 11,000 patients with biopsy-proven celiac disease and close to 54,000 controls, were examined based on the type of birth they experienced. The study showed an outstanding 15% increase risk in those born through elective or planned C-section over those born via an emergency cesarean.
In fact there was no increased risk found for those individuals born from an emergency C-section.
Why the vast difference? The reason for the disparity lies in the vital exposure to the health-promoting probiotic organisms present in the birth canal that occurs in vaginal births as well as those who experience emergency C-sections.
Babies born after an emergency C-section typically reside in the birth canal for some time prior to the decision being made to perform the surgery.
Elective or planned C-sections afford the baby no time in the birth canal, in fact they are designed to occur before any major progression of labor has occurred. Therefore these babies are given no exposure to the healthy probiotic population that has recently been appreciated to be capable of keeping the celiac disease gene from expressing itself.
It is as if there is a switch for a disease that one is genetically programmed to be susceptible to, and it has an on and off position. Healthy probiotics can keep that switch in the ‘off’ position, despite the genetic tendency. Conversely, a lack of healthy probiotics allow that switch to move to the ‘on’ position, thereby allowing the disease to be expressed.
Let’s compare two children who both:
1.       Possess the genes for celiac disease
2.       Are exposed to gluten in their diet
The child born with exposure to the good probiotics in the birth canal won’t necessarily develop celiac disease, despite their genetic predisposition. The probiotics, if healthy and abundant, will suppress the expression of the celiac disease genes.
On the contrary, the child born via elective C-section and having no exposure to the probiotics, will not have the defense against the genetic predisposition to develop celiac due and will, therefore, be 15% more likely to develop the disease.
While avoiding a planned C-section is perhaps not a viable alternative for every expectant mother, this knowledge does seem vitally important for any expectant mother, who has celiac disease or any other autoimmune diseases present in their family.
If there is absolutely no recourse to a planned C-section due to whatever circumstance, I would strongly suggest that the mother takes all steps to optimize the health of their digestive tract and probiotic population such that when they nurse their newborn they can at least share their good bacteria through breast milk. This is, I believe, an extremely important practice for all newborns, but most especially in this circumstance.
If you need assistance in determining the best course of action to take to improve the health of your own small intestine such that your probiotic population provides the optimal health benefits to your future unborn children, or if you already have a child and want to ensure that their probiotic level is optimized, please feel free to contact me for a complimentary health analysis – call 408-733-0400.
The benefits to be obtained from keeping the 100 trillion probiotics (also known as the microbiome) in your small intestine healthy are quite remarkable. This is an emerging science, but one we know quite a bit about already.
Ensuring a healthy microbiome in yourself and your children is not difficult and the program is a natural  one. But each individual is unique and therefore the program must be designed on a personalized basis in order to achieve the greatest success.
I hope this was informative. We are here to help you, your children and family. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally.

To your good health,

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! Call 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Petersen,
I had a c-section with my son after a 2 day failed induction-he never made it anywhere near the birth canal (was stuck up near my umblilicus) but born healthy. phew. I have celiac and he, at age 10 months, tested positive for one of the less common celiac genes. i continue to breastfeed and give him probiotics in his solid food. is there anything I can do to ensure healthy gut function since he did not colonize the good bacteria in the birth canal?
thank you

The HealthNOW Doctors said... - It sounds like you're doing a lot right with continuing to breastfeed and giving your son probiotics. Prebiotics come from fruits and veggies so once he's onto solid food, ensure he gets a lot of those.

If any health problems arise please don't hesitate to contact me.

I am happy to help.

Dr Vikki

Anonymous said...

I have Celiac and also have a 10 month old daughter. Do you recommend introducing gluten now or wait? I have mixed feelings and have heard different things. The University of Chicago posted something about introducing gluten early to a child of a Celiac. Others say wait. I am so worried she will develop Celiac and I won't know. I'm concerned it will fester low grade as mine did. We all know regardless of symptoms, the damage is being done. I plan on having her tested every few years at least. It's just hard to find doctors that will run the test if there aren't symptoms. I don't want to post my email address on a open forum but I will check back to see your reply. Thank you.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Personally I would wait until the child is a year old and I would get genetic testing done. EnteroLab will do a mouth swab that's very easy. Ask them how old the child needs to be in order to get an accurate test.

At a year you can slowly introduce gluten and then do a screening saliva test (once again non-invasive) to see if there's a reaction. Cyrex Labs has a good one that will evaluate for both celiac and gluten sensitivity. Look at their site to see what age they feel their test produces accurate results.

Let me know if this helps.

Dr Vikki Petersen