Children born via cesarean section have double the risk of becoming obese as infants compared to children who are born vaginally. That find was part of a study recently published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood.
Researchers in Boston followed 1,250 pregnant women through their child’s third birthday, the group found that 15.7 percent of children delivered via C-section were already obese while only 7.5 percent of children delivered vaginally suffered from childhood obesity.
The study also found that a mothers body mass index and the baby’s birth weight at the time of delivery did not play large roles in leading to childhood obesity.
According to lead researcher
Dr. Susanna Huh, ab assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School:
“Almost one in three children are delivered by C-section in the U.S., and if cesarean delivery is a risk factor for obesity, this would be an important reason to avoid them if they aren ‘t necessary.”
At this time Huh and her co-authors are not sure why C-sections lead to obesity but they have several hunches. The first suspicion is that the type of delivery performed affects the bacterial communities established in the body at birth, this in turn affects the absorption of nutrients from the diet. It is also possible that the bacteria in the gut might interact with host cells in such a manner as to promote obesity.
Researchers also speculate that hormones and protein signals that are released during labor have an effect on obesity development.
In the meantime now all doctors agree with the findings, Dr. Ann Budzak-Garza, a pediatrician with Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis. tells ABC News:
“Our C-section rate at Gundersen is only about 20 percent, which is a lot lower than what’s reported in the study. But the incidence of childhood obesity in La Crosse County is actually higher than in other parts of the country. One in three children is overweight or obese.”
Researchers plan to further expand on their research to find exactly what links c-sections to childhood obesity.