24/05/2012 02:48 BST

Babies Born By Caesarean 'Twice As Likely To Be Obese'

Babies born by Caesarean are twice as likely to be obese later in life, claims new research.

According to the Archive of Disease in Childhood, nearly 16% of babies born by C-section were classed as obese by the time they reached their third birthday compared to 7.5% of children born naturally (vaginal birth).

Although the study does little to investigate the reasons behind the link, they speculate that it could be down to the composition of gut bacteria picked up during the C-section birth.

This isn't the first time Caesareans have been linked to obesity in children

Other research have also identified different levels of bacteria in the guts of children born vaginally and by Caesarean.

Studies have found that children born by Caesarean delivery have higher numbers of Firmicutes bacteria. Other research found that obese people have higher levels of the same bacteria in their guts.


Researchers from the recent study investigated the birth records of 1,255 mother and child pairs in eastern Massachusetts between 1999 and 2002.

One in four of the children was born by Caesarean section. They were all measured and weighed at birth, six months and three years.

"An association between Caesarean birth and increased risk of childhood obesity would provide an important rationale to avoid non-medically indicated Caesarean section," write the authors.

"Expectant mothers choosing Caesarean delivery in the absence of an obstetrical or medical indication should be aware that their children may have a higher risk of obesity."

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