RESEARCH explains why babies born by caesarean section are more likely to be obese as adults.

A recent study found birth by caesarean was linked to a 13 per cent higher risk of obesity in children compared with vaginal birth.

The scientists involved believe that babies born by caesarean miss out on exposure to bacteria in the birth canal that colonise the baby’s gut and may ultimately change the body’s metabolic rate – and even how hungry we feel.

Audrey Gaskins, an epidemiologist at Harvard University and co-author of the new study, said: “Children born via C-section harbour less diverse gut bacteria and these patterns of less diversity have been linked to increased capacity for energy harvest by the gut microbiota. You can think of it as a slower metabolism.”

Previous studies have found the same link, but were less able to rule out other factors, such as the mother’s weight or health.

The latest research, which included 22,068 children born to 15,271 women, suggests the link is not simply explained by overweight women or those with pregnancy complications such as high blood pressure being more likely to deliver by caesarean

The link remained after maternal weight was taken into account, and was more striking when siblings who had different types of births were compared.

Within families, children born by caesarean were 64 per cent more likely to be obese than their siblings born by vaginal delivery. “With siblings, they have the same mother and home environment so the genetics, the feeding environment, are all controlled for,” said Dr Gaskins.

There is growing evidence that the internal ecosystem of bacteria that colonises our gut can have profound implications for health , influencing our metabolism, diabetes risk and even our mental health.

The participants in the study, published on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, were followed up with questionnaires over 20 years. Those born via caesarean were on average 0.3 BMI points heavier.

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  • I think more research is required before this can be a definite analysis. Too many C-section babies I know are very skinny individuals.


  • Seriously!! I was delivered via c section (as my mother wasn’t able to give birth naturally) – I had that also with all 4 of my pregnancies. I myself struggled to put on weight throughout my childhood and until I gave birth to my twins (my 4th pregnancy) I was considered underweight (for my height) and none of my 5 boys are either over or under, all very healthy active boys


  • Interesting, but I think I would need more information than what has been provided by the people who have studied this before I could believe all that the study alleges.


  • I have two of each, my eldest born vaginally is over weight my youngest is underweight born via caesarean, will keep an eye out when they are older


  • Interesting read, but if it is true ? My kids were born with C-section.


  • Oh for goodness sake. Put more guilt on the woman that have c sections. Sorry but I think its a load of rubbish. I know kids that were born by c section and they are skinny and if anything could do with putting on weight.


  • This is interesting. But there must a way to restore those missing bacteria, right?


  • Great – another thing for mums to feel guilty about. Strange topic to research – aren’t there diseases they could be trying to cure instead?


  • Interesting – keep the research happening!


  • There has been a lot of research that shows vaginal births are better, but usually mothers who have c-sections have no choice because both they and the unborn babies are in distress.


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