To assess the longer term effects of antibiotic use in caesarean section, we will use anonymised, routine NHS information already collected by hospitals and GPs from women who gave birth in the UK between 2006-2018 (before and after the change in the national policy) and their children.
The primary care databases (The Health Improvement Network THIN and Clinical Practice Research Datalink CPRD) together contain anonymised data from around 10% of all people registered with a GP across the UK. The Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) database contains all hospital records of mothers and their babies born in England (over 8 million births during the study period).
We will look at a range of health conditions in children, particularly asthma, eczema and allergies, as well as infections and immune system related disorders. We will compare rates of asthma and other diseases in children born by caesarean section before and after the change in the national guidance. We will also compare their health to children whose mothers had a vaginal birth over the study period. This will ensure that any changes in the health of the children are not due to changes in other factors over time, for example, changes in the diagnosis and recording of asthma in GP medical records.
The project started in April 2018 and we hope to share the findings by April 2020.