A controversial theory is surfacing suggesting that children born to moms who delivered via C-section may be at higher risk of developing obesity later on in life, when compared to offspring born by vaginal delivery.
Brazilian researchers looked at 2,000 young adults, ages 23 - 25 years old. Of the group, 15% who were born by C-section were obese, compared to only 10% who were obese and born by natural delivery. The researchers then looked at other variables that could affect weight, including actual weight at birth, income, and education level (interesting enough, the wealthier women had higher rates of C-section). After those variables were removed, there still appeared to be a significant link between choosing or having a C-section, and offspring's risk of obesity. As is typical in these kinds of scientific findings a potential connection does not translate to causal relationship.
One theory being explored to explain the possible connection is the idea that when a baby is born vaginally, they are exposed to certain bacteria in the birth canal that may influence metabolic rate. One also has to factor in the reality that obese women are more likely to need C-sections and simply by the fact that they are obese, more likely to have obese children. Researchers also feel that weight during pregnancy and possible gestational diabetes needs to be looked at as possible links to obese offspring. Certainly researchers feel that studies measuring intestinal flora in newborns and identifying flora type, and then following these children and seeing milestones weights through adulthood while re-measuring flora types and amounts is needed. Brazil has one of the highest rates of C-sections among countries worldwide. C-section rates in the US are also quite high, hovering at 33% out of all births. Certainly one discussion point that has emanated from this research is a call to try and limit C-section rates, since many experts feel that the rates of unnecessary C-section surgeries are just too high.
Did you have a scheduled C-section? If so, would you now, with this information re-think this choice?