Microbirth is a new feature-length documentary looking at birth in a whole new way; through the lens of a microscope. Investigating the latest scientific research, the film reveals that how we give birth could impact the lifelong health of our children.
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 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. (Directed by Toni Harman and Alex Wakeford, 2014, UK, 70 mins., NR)