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C-section Babies More Likely to Become Overweight Adults

Update Date: Feb 26, 2014 05:38 PM EST

Babies born by C-section are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that people born by cesarean section were 26 percent more likely to be overweight of obese in adulthood than those born by vaginal delivery.

The latest findings are based on combined data from 15 studies with over 38,000 participants.

Researchers said women who want to give birth via cesarean should know that there might be long-term consequences. Past research reveals that cesarean births also raise the risk of asthma and type-1 diabetes in childhood.

The latest study, which involved data from 10 countries, reveals that the average body mass index of adults born by C-section is around half a unit more than those born by vaginal delivery.

Researchers said the study was not able to explain the link between cesarean delivery and higher body weight.

"There are good reasons why C-section may be the best option for many mothers and their babies, and C-sections can on occasion be life-saving. However, we need to understand the long-term outcomes in order to provide the best advice to women who are considering caesarean delivery," senior author Professor Neena Modi from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London said in a news release.

"This study shows that babies born by C-section are more likely to be overweight or obese later in life. We now need to determine whether this is the result of the C-section, or if other reasons explain the association," Modi said.

"There are plausible mechanisms by which caesarean delivery might influence later body weight. The types of healthy bacteria in the gut differ in babies born by caesarean and vaginal delivery, which can have broad effects on health. Also, the compression of the baby during vaginal birth appears to influence which genes are switched on, and this could have a long-term effect on metabolism," added co-researcher Dr. Matthew Hyde.

The findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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