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C-sections linked to childhood obesity

C-sections linked to childhood obesity

Newborn baby - Credit: thinkstock

Babies born by caesarean are twice as likely to suffer from obesity in childhood, it is claimed.

C-sections have already been linked to an increased risk of childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis.

Research published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood found just under 16% of children delivered via caesarean were obese by the age of three 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 three.

The authors based their findings on 1,255 mother and child pairs, who attended eight outpatient maternity services in eastern Massachusetts, US between 1999 and 2002.
Out of the 1,255 deliveries, around one in four (22.6%) were by caesarean section, and the remainder (77.4%) were vaginal deliveries.

The study also found those mothers who delivered by c-section weighed more than those delivering vaginally, and the birthweight of their babies also tended to be higher.

Such women also breastfed their babies for a shorter period.
The researchers suggest the weight difference could be explained by the difference in the composition of gut bacteria acquired at birth between the two delivery methods.

Previous research has shown babies born by c-section have higher numbers of Firmicutes bacteria and lower numbers of Bacteroides bacteria in their guts. 

It is thought that the gut bacteria could influence the development of obesity by increasing energy extracted from the diet, and by stimulating cells to boost insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat deposits.

Sue Macdonald, Education and Research Manager at the Royal College of Midwives, said the research highlights the need to avoid caesareans that are not medically needed.
“Evidence is building and suggests that unnecessary caesarean sections may have detrimental effects in the short and  long term for the woman, and the child,” she said.

“This research adds to that evidence but further research is needed to confirm these findings.
“There is also a need to provide on-going support to women, their babies and families towards improving and addressing weight management, initially through supporting breastfeeding and then through healthy eating.”


I have had 2 children both by section and both of my children are below the 50th centile, despite being on the 75th centile at birth, I am also the correct weight for my height, whilst this research may be true for women in America it cannot be reliably extrapolated to other cultures. Mothers don' t need any more guilt trips, and I am surprised and disappointed that a senior figure at the RCM cannot see the serious methodological flaws in this study!!!

I am really upset on the way these articles are written. I had an emergency c section due to a large baby and a small pelvis to now be told my baby is more likely to be obese as a result of an inability to give birth naturally I find appalling. My toddler follows the 91st percentile for both weight and height.

I also believe this research to be bias given that there is a percentage of births which reflect my situation. I do not understand why people want to make mothers feel guilty about the way in which they give birth.

I would also like to point out that I breast fed my daughter for 9 months in an attempt to boost her immune system as guided by research. My daughter had swine flu at 5 months old. She has multiple allergies and has the epi pen. So much for research!!!

Years ago people used to die along side their babies because they could not give birth naturally. What we say now is the results of an evolving medical system where it's advantages are fantastic but we criticise human nature.

I have personally had 2 C Sections and neither of my children are obese. I think this claim is rather widely off the mark.
Hasn't Victoria Beckham had C Sections and none of her children are obese. Like mine hers probaly do plenty of exercise!!

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