Babies delivered via C-section are at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese than babies delivered normally. A Boston-based team of researchers followed children from the day they were born until the age of 3. Of those who were delivered by a Cesarean section, 15.7 percent were obese compared to 7.5 percent of those delivered normally. The infant’s weight at birth and the mother’s BMI were not found to play an important role although obesity in children is associated with maternal obesity.
Assistant professor at Harvard and lead author of the study Dr. Susanna Huh said women should be aware that C-section is a risk factor for obesity. Yet, in the United States alone, 1 in 3 babies are delivered via Cesarean section, and this is an important reason to consider normal delivery, unless surgery is necessary for medical reasons.
The mechanism behind the link between obesity and Cesarean section is unknown, but the research team offers some possible explanations. One is that the two delivery methods may affect the bacteria in the body in different ways. Another explanation is that the protein signals and hormones released during labor may reduce the risk of the development of obesity.
Medical practitioners claim that there are other risks associated with C-section. A report published in the British Medical Journal reveals that Caesarean delivery is 4 times more likely to result in complications compared to normal delivery. Research has shown that the risk of rupture of the uterus, infections, and haemorrhaging is 3 in 1,000 for normal deliveries and 12 in 1,000 for Cesarean deliveries. Women run the risk of developing pulmonary embolism, vein thrombosis, and infections after surgery, and it takes time to recover physically and emotionally. Finally, research shows that infants born via C-section are at a higher risk of developing respiratory diseases later in life.