According to a new study, babies born by caesarean section are more likely to be obese than children born vaginally, not only as children, but even later in life, with consequences that run through their teen-years and into adulthood.
Scientists analyzed data from more than 22 thousand young parents who are part of the study “GUTS” (Growing Up Today Study) which began in 1996 and is still going on, and it examines the factors that are affecting the health and weight of the people as they get older.
The analysis showed that those participants who were born by caesarean section (22% of the group) had on average 15% more likely to be obese than those who came into this world through vaginal delivery (the remaining 78% of the group).
This connection occurred in both sexes and in all ages, but it was strongest when the participants were younger – at 9-12 year olds the chance of obesity were 23% higher, at 13-18 year olds to 16% higher, while the 19- 28 years of age to 10% higher.
What is really interesting is the fact that the highest risk for obesity in children (30%) was when pregnant women decided to give birth by caesarean section with no documented health reasons, and perhaps the most interesting part is that those participants who were born by caesarean section and had siblings that were born vaginally had 64% higher risk of obesity than their brothers and sisters, which is a reliable proof of the link between cesarean section and obesity in children.
Scientists previously have noticed the connection between cesarean section and obesity, but this is the largest research so far.
However, the question still remains, why is this happening?
So far, no one knows for sure, but the children that were born by caesarean section are less exposed to vaginal and gastrointestinal microorganisms from the mother, which may play a role in their diet and weight as they grow.
It is important to remember that in many women caesarean section is necessary to protect the health of the mother and the baby, which means that scientists do not suggest that women should avoid this method of delivery just to reduce the risk of obesity in their children.
The biological reason for this connection has yet to be identified, and until it is confirmed, we should wait and see what will reveal the further researches.
These findings are published in ‘’JAMA Pediatrics‘’.