Here is a new study looking at the differences in attention abilities of babies born through caesareans versus normal deliveries

Being delivered through a caesarean section influences at least one form of babies’ ability to concentrate. It slows their spatial attention, which plays a role in how well they are able to prioritize and focus on a particular area or object that is of interest. These are the findings of Scott Adler and Audrey Wong-Kee-You of York University in Canada, published in Springer’s journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

Very early birth factors such as birth weight and a mother’s age can also impact in the development of a child. However, very little is known about how the actual birth event influences a baby’s cognitive and brain development. Adler and Wong Kee-You’s study is therefore important as it is the first on birth experiences to compare the spatial attention of babies delivered vaginally to those born through caesarean sections.

The first experiment, a spatial cueing task, tested the stimulus-driven spatial attention of 24 babies. A peripheral cue was presented to the edge of their eye line, indicating the subsequent location of a target stimulus. This activated infants’ saccadic (or quick, jerky) eye movement, so that their eyes turned faster towards the place where a target was subsequently presented.

The stimulus-driven, reflexive attention and saccadic eye movement of those babies born via a caesarean were found to be slowed compared to those of vaginally delivered infants. This is not because such babies try to more accurately select the right cues. The researchers believe it is because caesarean delivered babies' brain development was impacted by their method of birth and their ability to initially allocate their spatial attention. It is still unclear whether this effect lasts throughout a lifetime.

The results suggests that birth experience influences the initial state of brain functioning and should, consequently, be considered in our understanding of brain development,” says Adler.
The findings add a potential psychological implication to the roster of impacts that caesarean section delivery might have,” adds Wong-Kee-You.

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