Obesity risk higher in children born by cesarean section

New York: Children delivered by cesarean section may be at higher risk of becoming obese compared to children born vaginally, researchers say.

Compared to vaginally-delivered children, cesarean-delivered children had 40 per cent greater odds of becoming overweight or obese in childhood, according to the study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The researchers found that the association was even greater if their mother was overweight or obese, suggesting that among obese mothers vaginal delivery may help reduce the intergenerational association of obesity.

Having an overweight mother is often associated with overweight or obese children, regardless of how the child is born, but the effect was stronger among women who delivered via cesarean section, the researchers noted.

“We think that the reason for the difference may be due to the beneficial microbes found in the birth canal that newborns are exposed to during a vaginal birth,” said lead study author Noel Mueller, Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

“We suspect that these microbes may benefit a child’s health, including enhancing metabolism and training the immune system,” Mueller said.

The researchers analysed data on 1,441 full-term deliveries from the Boston Birth Cohort.

Among the study group, 57 per cent of the women who gave birth by cesarean were obese, and 53 per cent of those who delivered vaginally were obese.