C-Section Babies More Likely To Become Obese: Just-Published New Study

By Amir Khan on May 24, 2012 11:34 AM EDT

Obese
C-section babies are twice as likely to be obese than babies born vaginally, according to a new study. (Photo: Flickr.com/randomplace)

Babies born via cesarean section are more likely to be obese than babies born vaginally, according to a new study. Researchers found that C-section babies were twice as likely to be obese, which could play a large role on whether a mother should receive one or not.

Researchers followed more than 1,200 mothers and their children until the age of three and found that 15.7 percent of C-section babies were obese by 3 years old, compared to only 7.5 percent of babies delivered vaginally.

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"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," Dr. Susanna Huh, lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News.

While the mother's body mass index and the baby's birth weight did not appear to play a role in whether the child became obese, previous studies have linked maternal obesity to childhood obesity.

While the researchers could not say for sure what caused the increased obesity rate, they said changes in gut bacteria could play a role.

"We speculate that the different modes of delivery may influence the bacteria in the gut at birth, and it is possible that gut bacteria may influence obesity by affecting the calories and nutrients absorbed from diet," Huh told HealthDay. "The bacteria also may stimulate cells in a way that boosts insulin resistance, inflammation and fat."

Dr. Amos Grunebaum, an associate attending obstetrician and gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who was not involved in the study, said mothers should not be scared off of C-sections, because when they are necessary, not receiving one could be deadly.

"When you have an indication for a C-section, the risk of not doing it is so high," he told HealthDay. "Having a baby with a potential future risk of obesity is not a good enough reason to not do one."

But the point is to avoid unnecessary C-sections, Dr. Mitchell Maiman, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, told HealthDay.

"Many women who have had a C-section can safely deliver vaginally in the future," he said. "This is known as vaginal birth after Caesarean. Babies delivered via C-section have more pulmonary problems [and] are more likely to wind up in the intensive-care unit, and now there is the possibility that obesity rates will be twice as high."

The journal Archives of Disease in Childhood published the study on Thursday.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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