Are Caesareans Linked To Obesity in Later Life?
Recent research indicates that babies born by C-sections could be at a higher risk of becoming obese later on in their lives than those babies delivered naturally. The report suggesting this is in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and indicates that this could be because the child is not exposed to beneficial bacteria within the birth canal. But another thing to think about is that many overweight mothers are at certain risks which lead to caesarean section births so this may explain the link. Other factors that were analysed such as income, education levels and heavier birth weights and it was discovered that women with more qualifications had a higher caesarean rate. After accounting for all factors it was revealed that being delivered by C-section was linked to a fifty eight per cent increase in the risk of obesity in adulthood. The report indicates that because the babies born by C-section do not get exposed to the beneficial bacteria in the birth canal, they take a longer time to gather good bugs, in particular Bifidobacteria, a microbe that influences metabolism. Adults who are obese have less good bacteria in their digestive tracts than adults with healthy weights. Friendly bacteria and good intestinal bugs mean that more calories can be burnt so if an adult has a lack of these in their intestines they are more likely to store fat. The report is not conclusive and some experts say it raises more questions than answers. The study did not include information about the mothers’ weights whilst pregnant. Women who give birth by C-section are less likely to breastfeed and children who are not breastfed do not always establish a healthy childhood weight as easily as those who are. In the UK around twenty-three per cent of all births are by C-section and in the US, in 2007 caesareans rose to thirty-two per cent. The World Health Organisation recommends the figure should be around fifteen per cent. The report was carried out in Brazil where they studied two thousand pregnant women. Approximately forty four per cent of babies born in Brazil are by caesarean section and it is thought that many of these surgical procedures are not medically necessary. Certainly, caesarean births have dramatically increased over the last thirty years at the same time as the world’s obesity rates soar in both children and adults. The findings of the report are interesting but doctors are still not sure how strong the link is between how heavy a person will be in later life and how they were delivered at birth. By Eirian Hallinan