C-sections are getting a bad rep lately. First there was the reported link between Caesarean deliveries subsequent childhood asthma and allergic rhinitis. Now, research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood makes the hefty claim that C-sections may double the risk of childhood obesity.
Big news, considering that around one in three babies are born this way in the US, with similar figures here in Canada.
The study followed 1,255 mothers and babies in eastern Massachusetts maternity wards between 1999 and 2002. The babies were weighed at birth, at six months, and then again at the age three, when an infant body fat (skinfold thickness) measurement was taken.
Out of the 1,255 deliveries, around one in four (22.6 percent) were delivered by Caesarean, and those babies tended to weigh more than those delivered vaginally, and irrespective of birth weight and maternal weight, those babies had higher BMIs and skinfold measurements by the age of three.
A possible explanation for this, according to researchers, is the "difference in the composition of gut bacteria acquired at birth between the two delivery methods." Apparently babies born by C-section have more Firmicutes bacteria and fewer Bacteroides bacteria in their guts. (Obese people have higher levels of Firmicutes bacteria.) It is believed that gut bacteria influences insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat deposits.
Another good reason to avoid elective, non-emergency Caesarean sections. Are you listening, Britney, et al