A new study has indicated that Caesarean section babies have a higher risk of food allergies and diarrhoea during their first year of life. Researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, Germany looked at 865 babies. All of them were breast fed during their first four months of life.

Researchers say that C section babies are more likely than other babies to have diarrhoea during their first year of life. Their chances of being allergic to cow's milk are twice as high as babies born normally. The babies were checked when they were one, four, eight and twelve months old.

Researchers also took blood samples when the babies were twelve months old. They checked to see whether there might be an allergy to eggs, cow's milk protein, soy protein and some other products.

The mothers had to fill in a weekly chart which asked about feeding and the baby's health.

You can read about this study in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Of the 865 babies they monitored, 147 had been born by C section - 17% of the total.

The researchers reckon that C section delays (or alters) the normal bacterial colonisation of the baby's gut. It is thought that gut bacteria play a vital role in the development of our immune systems.

The researchers suggested that a vaginally delivered baby is picking up bacteria from the mother's vaginal and anal area while a C-section baby is picking up other ones from the hospital environment.

Some health experts are saying that there are flaws in the study. For example, about 25% of C section babies are born two to three weeks early. This early birth could be playing a role in the findings rather than the C section.