Babies delivered by Caesarean section may have an increased risk of obesity by age 3, a new study has found.
Among 1,255 women recruited in early pregnancy
for the study, 284 gave birth by Caesarean section. By age 3, 15.7
percent of those children were obese (with a body mass index in the 95th
percentile or greater), compared with 7.5 percent of those delivered
Mothers who delivered by Caesarean were on average
heavier than those who delivered vaginally, and they breast-fed less.
But after controlling for these and other maternal health and
socioeconomic factors, the scientists found that Caesarean delivery was associated with a doubling of the odds of obesity in these children
. Whether the Caesarean was planned or an emergency delivery made no difference.
"Those mothers who are considering C-section
in the absence of a medical indication should be counseled about this
potential risk," said the lead author, Dr. Susanna Y. Huh, an assistant
professor of pediatrics at Harvard.
born by Caesarean develop different intestinal flora from those born
vaginally, and the authors suggest this could be a factor. Or, the mode
of delivery might have long-term effects on immune or endocrine
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