A new documentary, “Microbirth” reveals the microscopic secrets of childbirth and it has its
World premiere screening Saturday 20th September 2014
For the past 25 years I have been working in the field of pregnancy and childbirth. I have witnessed the increasing medicalization of birth and the effects that this is having on both mothers and babies. In turn this will have a fundamental effect on all our relationships and who we are as human beings.
I am always grateful when there is some research which can help explain some of what is going on and so when I heard that a film “Microbirth” was being made, which was going to explore some of the implications of medical birth, I immediately gave some funding towards it. The world screening of this film will be taking place on 20th September. I am involved in promoting a screening in Bristol, but there will be world wide screenings: so do check out the Microbirth website to find out where the nearest screening to you will be. If we can all be aware of the content of this film and share it, maybe we can start to understand more about the effects of birth.
Featuring prominent scientists from the UK and North America, “Microbirth” examines how modern birth practices could be interfering with critical biological processes potentially making our children more susceptible to disease later in life.
Recent population studies have shown that babies born by Caesarean Section have approximately a 20% increased risk of developing asthma, 20% increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes, a similar risk with obesity and slightly smaller increases with gastro-intestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease. These conditions are all linked to the immune system.
“Microbirth” explores several possible explanations. If a baby is born by Caesarean Section, scientists hypothesise this could alter the “seeding” of the baby’s microbiome, the critical transfer of good bacteria from mother to baby at birth. Scientists suggest this could lead to the baby’s immune system not developing to its full potential. Another hypothesis is the actual process of vaginal birth, including the cocktail of hormones produced during labour, could profoundly affect the baby’s immune regulation and metabolism.
Dr Rodney R Dietert, Professor of Immunotoxicology at Cornell University, says, “Over the past 20-30 years, we’ve seen dramatic increases in childhood asthma, type 1 diabetes, coeliac disease, childhood obesity. We’ve also seen increases in Caesarean delivery. Does Caesarean cause these conditions? No. What Caesarean does is not allow the baby to be seeded with the microbes. The immune system doesn’t mature. And the metabolism changes. It’s the immune dysfunction and the changes in metabolism that we now know contribute to those diseases and conditions.”
Dr Matthew Hyde, Research Associate of Neonatal Medicine, Imperial College London says, ”We are increasingly seeing a world out there with what is really a public health time-bomb waiting to go off. And the research we are doing suggests it is only going to get worse, generation on generation. So tomorrow’s generation really is on the edge of the precipice unless we can begin to do something about it.”
The film’s co-director Alex Wakeford says, “The World Health Organization has stated non-communicable disease has reached epidemic levels. Leading economists have predicted that, by the year 2030, the cost of treating this epidemic could bankrupt global healthcare systems. Governments are extremely concerned about the repercussions of antibiotic resistance and the effect this level of disease could have upon social and economic stability on a global scale. What is not even on their agenda, however, is the possible effect of mode of birth.”
The film’s co-director Toni Harman adds, “Caesarean Sections are often essential and can be life-saving. A few leading individuals have been raising the alarm and building up a picture of potential long-term outcomes for some time. This is an issue not just for parents and health professionals, but also for all our world leaders. For surely now is the time for childbirth to be the focus of serious, urgent attention at the highest level?”
– “Microbirth” is an independent production by Alto Films Ltd. The film has been produced and directed by British filmmaking couple, Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford. Their previous film “Freedom For Birth” premiered in over 1,100 public screenings in 50 countries in 2012.
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