Medical Experts in the UK Express Concerns Over Practice of Vaginal Seeding
Experts have raised concerns over the practice of vaginal seeding following an increasing number of requests for it in the UK.
Vaginal seeding is a practice whereby a mother who has given birth via C-section takes swabs of her vaginal fluid and applies it to the face, body and mouth of their baby after the birth in order to "help" their immune system.
It originated in Australia but is apparently growing in popularity in both the US and the UK. (For more information about it, click here.)
However in a recent piece in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), doctors have said that exposure to vaginal bacteria could possibly lead to newborns developing infections. Their concerns are based on the fact that very little research has been done to assess the potential benefits and dangers of the process.
Senior lecturer at Imperial College London and Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Dr Aubrey Cunnington, said: "Demand for this process has increased among women attending hospitals in the UK – but this has outstripped professional awareness and guidance.
"At the moment we're a long way from having the evidence base to recommend this practice. There is simply no evidence to suggest it has benefits - and it may carry potential risks."
As previously suggested by OB-GYN physician and medical journalist Jennifer Conti in a piece on Slate, he explains that there is a risk of transferring harmful bacteria from mother to baby, including group B streptococcus and the herpes simplex virus.
He argues that, because the process can be done at home by parents, medical staff may not be aware of what the child has been exposed to should they become ill and advises parents to mention that they have performed vaginal seeding on their baby should this happen.
According to the BMJ website, there has already been a case where medical staff had to intervene to prevent vaginal seeding from a woman with genital herpes and staff at UK hospitals have been told not to perform the procedure as they believe that the “small risk of harm cannot be justified without evidence of benefit.”
The article advises that breastfeeding and antibiotic exposure have a powerful effect on developing microbiota.