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C-Section Born Babies 83 Pct More Likely to be Overweight, Comprehensive Study Analyzed 10,000 Children

Update Date: May 26, 2013 06:49 PM EDT
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Babies born via Cesarean section (c-section) are more prone to being overweight later on in their adolescent teens compared to babies born vaginally, a British study said after comprehensively analyzing 10,000 children from birth until 10 years of age.

With C-sections, 'there may be long-term consequences to children that we don't know about,' said Dr. Jan Blustein, who led the new study at the New York University School of Medicine, according to a report in the International Journal of Obesity.

The study looked at 11-year-olds who were born via C-section and found they were 83 percent more likely to be overweight or obese compared to the naturally-born children assessed in the study. To reach this conclusion, the researchers factored in all other relevant information including the mother's weight and if she breastfed and for how long.

The researchers analyzed data from babies born in Avon, UK in 1991 and 1992 who were followed through age 15. Just over 9 percent of the infants were delivered via C-section.

Blustein said that as early as six weeks of age, the C-section babies were consistently heavier than naturally-born infants at almost all the check-ups monitored by the research team. Blustein acknowledged there are cases where a caesarean is necessary, but she hopes the study will warns those who chose to have an elective c-section of the potential risk the child may incur later on in life.

However, Blustein said the verdict is still out as to why c-section born babies tend to become heavier later on in life. Her hypothesis is that it might have something to do with C-section babies missing out on important exposures to friendly bacteria during the trip through the birth canal.

"Generally, the early colonization and establishment of the intestine with bacteria seems very important. Yet, much more work is needed before we can explain the mechanisms of the early bacterial colonization," Teresa Ajslev, from the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Frederiksberg, Denmark, told Reuters Health.

Across the whole study group of children, rates of overweight and obesity ranged from 31 percent at age three to 17 percent at ages seven and 15.

Meanwhile, another study released earlier this year found that babies born via cesarean have a higher chance of developing allergies later in life. Researchers said babies born via C-section are at risk because they have certain microorganisms in their gastrointestinal tract that make them more vulnerable to developing the antibody Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, when exposed to common allergens. This antibody is related to certain allergies.

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