Children born via Cesarean section have higher rates of obesity, according to a new study.
The study, which was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016, says that children delivered by C-section have a 40 percent greater risk to be overweight than those born vaginally.
By delivering vaginally, obese and overweight women could help reduce the intergenerational occurrence of obesity in their family, according to the report.
“We think that the reason for the difference may be due to the beneficial microbes found in the birth canal that newborns are exposed to during a vaginal birth,” said lead study author Noel Mueller, PhD., M.PH., an assistant professor of epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. “We suspect that these microbes may benefit a child’s health, including enhancing metabolism and training the immune system.”
“We need more studies to determine whether exposing Cesarean-delivered newborns to vaginal microbes at birth can reduce their future risk of metabolic disorders such as obesity,” Mueller added.
These findings held true even after keeping in account the mother’s age at delivery plus her race, education, pre-pregnancy body mass index, pregnancy weight gain, air pollution exposure, and the child’s birth weight.
Data from 1,441 full-term deliveries was analyzed. Within the study group, 57 percent of the mothers who gave birth by C-section were obese, compared to 53 percent who delivered vaginally. The children observed in the outcome study ranged from ages 2 to 8 years old.