PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study suggests babies born via c-section are more likely to develop obesity.
Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health looked at 15,271 women and their 22,069 offspring — 4,921 of which were born by cesarean delivery. The children were given questionnaires to fill out at various ages throughout their life up until they were 28 years old.
They also recorded notes on the moms, including pre-pregnancy BMI, race/ethnicity and the region of the country where they gave birth.
The results published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that those children born by a c-section, were 15 percent more likely to develop obesity later in life, compared to children born by vaginal delivery.
That figure jumped to 64 percent when comparing siblings — meaning that a child delivered via c-section was 64 percent more likely to become obese, compared to a sibling delivered vaginally from the same mother.
According to the study authors, differences in microbiota exposure may be to blame for the increased risk — infants delivered vaginally having greater exposure to their mother’s gastrointestinal microbiota than babies delivered via c-section, who had a greater exposure to their mother’s skin microbiota. Children delivered by a cesarean also have a greater exposure to bacteria from their external environment.
The study cites evidence that this difference can lead to an “altered gut microbiota pattern in offspring.” Prior research has indicated similar findings in children up to a year after birth but more studies need to be conducted to confirm the effects later in life.