Dominick Lemas, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy, was recently awarded $20,000 for his project, “Assessing the Evidence for the Microbiome as a Potential Path for Reducing C-sections and Improving Child Health Outcomes in New York City,” which aims to reduce the rates of medically unnecessary cesarean sections among low-income women and mitigate the long-term health consequences of these births.
The study is based upon previous research that shows that C-section babies do not receive a complete microbiota transfer from the womb. In other words, C-section babies do not carry the same microorganisms, such as bacteria that aid in digestive processes, as babies birthed vaginally. This incomplete transfer can result in a number of associated health risks that can become particularly prevalent among low-income communities where medical resources are less accessible.
The research team will be completing a literature review on links between C-sections and microbiome transfers, as well as their impact on long-term health, to better understand these health consequences.
“We know that a lack of certain microbiota in C-section babies can result in increased rates of obesity, asthma and allergies,” said Lemas. “The next step in our research is to pinpoint which specific microorganisms aren’t being transferred and evaluate the plausibility of microbiota restoration.”
The project is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation, which focuses on fighting poverty in New York City and improving health in low-income neighborhoods. For more information on the foundation, click here.