Caesarean section delivery may double risk of childhood obesity

May 23, 2012, British Medical Journal

Caesarean section delivery may double the risk of subsequent childhood obesity, finds research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Caesarean section delivery has already been linked to an increased risk of subsequent and , and around one in three babies born in the US is delivered this way.

The authors base their findings on 1255 mother and child pairs, who attended eight outpatient maternity services in eastern Massachusetts, USA between 1999 and 2002.

The mums joined the study before 22 weeks of pregnancy, and their babies were measured and weighed at birth, at six months, and then at the age of three, when the child's skinfold thickness, a measure of body fat, was also assessed.

Out of the 1255 deliveries, around one in four (22.6%; 284) were by , and the remainder (77.4%; 971) were vaginal deliveries.

Mums who delivered by c-section tended to weigh more than those delivering vaginally, and the birthweight for of their babies also tended to be higher. These mums also breastfed their babies for a shorter period.

But irrespective of birth weight, and after taking account of maternal weight (BMI) and several other influential factors, a caesarean section delivery was associated with a doubling in the odds of obesity by the time the child was 3 years old.

Just under 16% of children delivered via c-section were obese by the age of 3 compared with 7.5% of those born vaginally.

Children delivered by c-section also had higher BMI and skinfold thickness measurements by the age of 3.

The researchers speculate that one possible explanation for their findings is the difference in the composition of gut bacteria acquired at birth between the two delivery methods.

They highlight previous research showing that children born by c-section have higher numbers of Firmicutes bacteria and lower numbers of Bacteroides bacteria in their guts. These two groups make up the bulk of .

Other research has also suggested that obese people have higher levels of Firmicutes bacteria.

It may be that influence the development of obesity by increasing energy extracted from the diet, and by stimulating cells to boost insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat deposits, say the authors.

"An association between caesarean birth and increased risk of would provide an important rationale to avoid non-medically indicated caesarean section," write the authors.

Mums who choose this delivery option should be made aware of the potential health risks to her baby, including the possibility of obesity, they say.

Explore further: Incontinence 20 years after child birth three times more common after vaginal delivery

Related Stories

Incontinence 20 years after child birth three times more common after vaginal delivery

March 26, 2012
Women are nearly three times more likely to experience urinary incontinence for more than 10 years following a vaginal delivery rather than a caesarean section, finds new research at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University ...

Uterine rupture is rare in the UK but increases with the number of previous cesarean deliveries

March 13, 2012
An analysis of the UK Obstetric Surveillance System published in this week's PLoS Medicine shows that uterine rupture—a serious complication of pregnancy in which the wall of the uterus (womb) tears during pregnancy ...

Increased risk of developing asthma by age of 3 after cesarean section

January 10, 2012
A new study supports previous findings that children delivered by cesarean section have an increased risk of developing asthma. The study from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) suggests that children delivered ...

Recommended for you

The effects of happiness and sadness on children's snack consumption

February 19, 2018
A University of Texas at Dallas psychologist has examined the preconceptions about the effects of emotions on children's eating habits, creating the framework for future studies of how dietary patterns evolve in early childhood.

Cycle of infant reflux signals a call to help mothers

February 14, 2018
Western Sydney University research has found that first-time mothers with mental health issues – in particular, maternal anxiety – are five times as likely to have their baby noted as having reflux when admitted to hospital.

Safe-sleep recommendations for infants have not reduced sudden deaths in newborns

February 14, 2018
An analysis of trends in sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) over the past two decades finds that the drop in such deaths that took place following release of the 1992 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) "back to sleep" ...

Most children with sickle cell anemia not receiving key medication to stay healthy

February 13, 2018
One of the greatest health threats to children with sickle cell anemia is getting a dangerous bacterial infection—but most are not receiving a key medication to reduce the risk, a new study suggests.

Premature babies' low blood pressure puzzle explained

February 13, 2018
Scientists have discovered crucial new information about how a foetus develops which could explain why very premature babies suffer low blood pressure and other health problems.

Babies face higher SIDS risk in certain states

February 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) claims the lives of some 3,500 babies in the United States each year, but its toll is far heavier in some states than others, health officials report.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.