Caesarean babies are more likely to become overweight as adults

Babies born by caesarean section are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, according to a new analysis.

The odds of being overweight or obese are 26 per cent higher for adults born by than those born by vaginal delivery, the study found (see footnote).

The finding, reported in the journal PLOS ONE, is based on combined data from 15 studies with over 38,000 participants.

The researchers, from Imperial College London, say there are good reasons why many women should have a C-section, but mothers choosing a caesarean should be aware that there might be long-term consequences for their children.

Around one in three to four births in England are by caesarean section, around twice as many as in 1990. In some countries, the rate is much higher, with 60 per cent of mothers in China and almost half in Brazil having the procedure.

Some previous studies have suggested that the odds of other adverse long-term outcomes, such asthma and type-1 diabetes in childhood, are also higher in babies born by caesarean.

The new study, which includes data from 10 countries, found that the average BMI of adults born by caesarean section is around half a unit more than those born by vaginal delivery. It is the largest to show a link between caesarean delivery and BMI in adulthood.

The authors say they cannot be certain that caesarean delivery causes higher body weight, as the association may be explained by other factors that weren't recorded in the data they analysed.

Professor Neena Modi from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London, the report's senior author, said: "There are good reasons why C-section may be the best option for many mothers and their babies, and C-sections can on occasion be life-saving. However, we need to understand the long-term outcomes in order to provide the best advice to women who are considering caesarean delivery.

"This study shows that babies born by C-section are more likely to be overweight or obese later in life. We now need to determine whether this is the result of the C-section, or if other reasons explain the association."

Dr Matthew Hyde, one of the researchers, said: "There are plausible mechanisms by which might influence later body weight. The types of healthy bacteria in the gut differ in babies born by caesarean and , which can have broad effects on health. Also, the compression of the baby during appears to influence which genes are switched on, and this could have a long-term effect on metabolism."

More information: PLOS ONE DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0087896

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Caesarean sections associated with risk of asthma

Jun 18, 2008

Babies born by Caesarean section have a 50 % increased risk of developing asthma compared to babies born naturally. Emergency Caesarean sections increase the risk even further. This is shown in a new study based on data from ...

Long-term consequences of vaginal delivery

Jan 30, 2013

Women are more likely to experience urinary incontinence, prolapse and faecal incontinence 20 years after one vaginal delivery rather than one caesarean section, finds new research published in a thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, ...

Recommended for you

Law requiring release of health information upheld

36 minutes ago

(HealthDay)—A state law that requires plaintiffs to release relevant protected health information before proceeding with allegations of medical liability has been upheld by a federal appeals court, according ...

Research highlights extent and effects of school violence

1 hour ago

Six percent of U.S. children and youth missed a day of school over the course of a year because they were the victim of violence or abuse at school. This was a major finding of a study on school safety by University of New ...

Planning for the move from children's to adult palliative care

4 hours ago

The differences between children's and adult palliative care services are too wide for young people with life-limiting conditions to negotiate, according to research by Bangor University. Commenting on the findings, the researchers ...

User comments