Vaginal Birth Found to Trigger Baby’s Brain-Boosting Proteins

Babies who are born vaginally have been found in a new Yale University study to have higher levels of important proteins that help their brains begin to grow and develop.  The Huffington Post reports on how vaginal (also called “normal”) birth may be important to brain development, at least according to this preliminary study:

“We were looking at the protein, and we realized that if you take a ‘normal birth’ mouse and compare it to a ‘c-section mouse,’ there are very different levels in the hippocampus,” Tamas Horvath, a professor of biomedical research and chair at the department of comparative medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, told The Huffington Post. The findings were published in the online research journal PLoS One, Wednesday.

The “uncoupling 2 protein,” or UCP2, is important to the development of the circuitry in the hippocampus, which helps with the formation and storage of memory. Development, he said, was “very important for behavior in the long run.”

But because the research was done in mice, it is highly preliminary. The research also looked at vaginal birth broadly, not at whether anesthesia use could influence protein production.

Researchers do not yet know why different delivery modes influence the protein, although Horvath guessed that the pressure and stress of traveling the birth canal may trigger it.

Image: Mother in labor at hospital, via Shutterstock

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