Birthing Babies into a Life of Obesity

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another study pointing us to a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the epidemic of obesity in our children:
Babies delivered by caesarean section appear to be twice as likely to become obese as those born naturally. Researchers at Harvard Medical School followed the pregnancies of more than 1,000 Boston women and found that nearly 16 percent of children delivered surgically were obese by age 3, compared with fewer than 8 percent of those born through vaginal delivery. That could mean caesareans are a significant factor in the obesity epidemic, study author Susanna Huh tells, since “one in three children in the U.S. is now delivered by caesarean section.’’ Researchers theorize that the cause could be a caesarean baby’s lack of exposure to its mother’s intestinal microbes. Just as we each have a blood type, we each harbor a specific set of gut bacteria. Babies often pick up their mothers’ microbes during their trip through the birth canal. Those born surgically are more likely to host a preponderance of gut flora called Firmicutes, which often predominate in obese adults. Though the current study doesn’t prove that surgical births cause obesity, Huh says, it does suggest “yet another reason to avoid caesarean sections that aren’t medically necessary.” 

Found in The Week, June 6, 2012

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