Babies who were born through cesarean section have double the risk of becoming obese later in life than those born vaginally, a new study suggests. The research team from Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts speculates that gut bacteria that affect how a child's food is digested could be the culprit.
The study team looked at 1,255 mother and baby pairs between 1999 and 2002. The moms joined the study before they reached 22 weeks of pregnancy, and agreed to have their babies weighed right after birth and once they turned three years old. The c-section rate among the participants was 25 percent; less than the national average in the United States.
The researchers, who published their findings in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found a link between body mass, skin thickness, and whether a child was delivered vaginally or by c-section. Childhood obesity was found to be twice as likely to occur in c-section babies. It's got to be mentioned that they also found moms who gave birth surgically were more likely to be obese. Of course, maternal obesity also affects the risk a child has of being overweight or obese.
Still, the team noted that the difference in obesity rates between kids born by c-section and those delivered vaginally could have something to do with gut bacteria. Bacteria are acquired while a baby moves through the mother's birth canal, and the lack of this process may negatively influence the way digestion works in babies who came into the world by c-section.
The study only used a small sample, and the c-section rate was different to the national c-section rate. Still, the findings are immensely interesting. The medical community has already commented that mothers should be made aware of the obesity risks involved in c-sections. We'll add that it may be a great idea for doctors to point out that obesity can cause complications during pregnancy, and increase the risk of needing a c-section. Losing weight before trying to conceive is a great idea.