A new study suggests a link between obesity in adults and c-section births. A baby who is born by caesarean is 27 percent more likely to be obese as an adult than a baby born vaginally. Is this study taking into account however the number of births that require a c-section because the baby is already too big to be born vaginally? According to the March of Dimes one of the primary reasons why doctors opt to perform a c-section is because they believe that the baby is too large to be born naturally. With larger babies there is already a chance they will develop into larger adults and the obesity levels that the researchers are looking at is usually body mass index (BMI), which is not always a good indicator of obesity.
There are other studies that find correlations between caesarean births and babies being born with type one diabetes or asthma. The link that they are finding however, may have more to do with the mother’s health during pregnancy than the c-section operation itself. For example according to the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMCH), a published a report in 2007, 67 percent of c-sections were related to the mom having some form of diabetes during the pregnancy. Since diabetes tends to run in families it is not surprising that women who had diabetes and gave birth via c-section have children who also have diabetes, the way the baby was born may have very little to do with the actual health issue.
Still if there is a link between obesity and c-section births researchers believe that it has to do with a particular enzyme that may not be passed along to children because of the caesarean. This is not to say that c-section births are without risk. Another study published recently suggests a higher mortality rate associated with c-sections and doctors as well as researchers are now cautioning moms to wait longer rather than rush into a c-section.
Some areas of the world doctors allow elective c-sections, these reasons vary from convenience to the mother and doctor, to women who believe that surgery is better than natural delivery, the “to posh to push” crowd. However with the new guidelines and added health risks doctors may consider no longer allowing elective c-sections. In England caesarean’s account for approximately 30 percent of all births and in some private hospitals that number jumps up to 50 percent. England is not alone though, the US also has seen a growing demand for c-section births which has led researchers to question how safe they really are and if any long-term effects will be seen with more babies being born this way. According to Mail Online, seven percent of all c-section in Britain are done for no medical reason.
The study was conducted at the Imperial College London and one of the authors, Professor Neena Modi, stated that while there are good reasons for caesarean deliveries there are also risks. Understanding these risks can help both the mother and doctor make the best decision for a healthy delivery. The researchers looked at 38,000 individuals and found that babies born via c-section were approximately 22 percent more likely to be obese. While the researchers are cautious more studies should be conducted to see if there is a link that says c-sections cause obesity or if it is the other way around.
By Rachel Woodruff