According to a new study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, researchers found that infants born by C-section are twice as likely to be obese compared to those infants who were born vaginally.
The study followed 1,255 infants born in the Boston area until they were 3 years old. Of these, 22.6 percent were born by C-section. At the age of 3, 15.7 percent of the children delivered by C-section were obese, compared to only 7.5 percent of those born vaginally. The association was apparent even after adjusting for factors that may influence childhood obesity such as maternal prepregnancy BMI and the baby’s birth weight. The mechanism underlying the relationship between C-sections and obesity has not been clearly established. There are several possible speculations, but further research needs to be done.
Dr. Susanna Huh, lead author and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, believes more research needs to be done but that women who are considering a C-section that is not medically necessary should know that their children may be at an increased risk of being obese.
These findings further support the message that unnecessary C-sections should be avoided, consistent with our “Think 39 Weeks! Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait” campaign, funded by the March of Dimes, in Florida. According to the March of Dimes, scheduling an early birth can be a problem because your due date may not be exactly right, inducing labor may not work, babies born by c-section may have more medical problems, and a c-section is major surgery for the mother.The Florida Perinatal Quality Collaborative is also partnering with the March of Dimes to eliminate unnecessary early inductions and c-sections prior to 39 weeks of pregnancy by placing hard stops in Florida hospitals to prevent the scheduling of deliveries prior to 39 weeks without a medical reason. For more information on the initiative, click here.