Fascinating article explaining how hormones released during birth affect a baby’s developing nervous system. Apparently, there are differences in hormone signalling with babies born by Cesarean. This may have long‐term neurodevelopmental consequences.

“During birth, hormones in the body surge in both mother and baby, sent along by the nervous system. These stress hormones are there to spur delivery and to help a baby adapt to living outside the womb. Some of the transitions babies accomplish at birth include starting to breathe, setting the body’s internal temperature and responding to microbes passed along by the mother that help us regulate our immune system, digestion and more.”

William Kenkel, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Delaware is looking at the impact of ‘birth signalling hormones’ (oxytocin, arginine vasopressin, epinephrine, norepinephrine and the glucocorticoids). They have been found to be lower following C-section compared to vaginal birth.

The hypothesis being investigated is that birth is a sensitive period for these hormones, and that there are potentially long-term neurodevelopmental consequences from being born by Cesarean.

According to the abstract of the research paper by Kenkel et al., “The research conducted to date suggests that the differences in hormone signalling seen in CS neonates may produce long‐term neurodevelopmental consequences.”

This is a subject explored in detail within our full-length Infant Microbiome and Epigenetics course. A whole session is devoted to the release of oxytocin during vaginal birth, so this new research on the impact of these stress hormones from C-section is an important new piece of a complex puzzle.


Link to easy-to-understand article in Obs, Gynae & Midwifery News.


Link to research:

Kenkel, W. Birth signalling hormones and the developmental consequences of caesarean delivery. J Neuroendocrinol. 2020; 00:e12912. https://doi.org/10.1111/jne.12912https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jn...


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