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Caesarean link to obesity

Thursday May 24th, 2012

Children born through caesarean section face a doubled risk of becoming obese, researchers warn today.

Up to one in four births now take place in the operating theatre in spite of efforts to reduce the rate.

Writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, researchers say they have found a new risk linked to this kind of birth.

Researchers studied some 1,255 women in Massachusetts, USA. They found that both mothers and babies tended to weigh more than others when there was a caesarean section.

The women also tended to breast-feed for a shorter period than others.

The researchers say that even allowing for these factors, children born through caesarean faced a doubled risk of being obese by the age of three - some 16 per cent in total.

Researcher Dr Susanna Huh, of the Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, says a possible explanation lies with differences in gut bacteria between the two groups of children. Children born through caesarean tend to have relatively high levels of organisms called Firmicutes bacteria - which are also linked to obesity.

She writes: "An association between caesarean birth and increased risk of childhood obesity would provide an important rationale to avoid non-medically indicated caesarean section."

Her conclusions were backed by the UK Royal College of Midwives.

Sue Macdonald, of the college, said: "Evidence is building and suggests that unnecessary caesarean sections may have detrimental effects in the short and long term for the woman, and the child.

"This research adds to that evidence but further research is needed to confirm these findings."

Archives of Disease in Childhood May 24 2012; doi 10.1136/archdischild-2011-301141

Tags: Child Health | Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diet & Food | North America | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News | Women’s Health & Gynaecology

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