Children born of scheduled – but not sudden – cesarean sections are more likely to be overweight until they are one year old, suggest new discoveries.
The authors of the new study, including the famous pediatrician, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, argue that the future portion should be informed how their choice may affect the risk of overweight in their children.
Throughout the world, over the past two decades, Caesarea has more than doubled, and a growing number of them are caesarean section, performed before the mother's birth.
The most recent data show that about a quarter of New Zealand births took place through Section C, and just over half were in a state of emergency.
Emergency caesarean section was performed when medical complications appeared during delivery.
While the delivery of the C-section was associated with overweight and obesity in early childhood, the reasons why they were not yet clear.
The new study analyzed data on 727 children and their mothers who took part in the study "Growing up in Singapore towards health" (Gusto).
Almost one-third of children were born of cesarean section, of which one-third were planned.
Researchers compared body mass index to age 12 months in infants born due to Caesarean section and vaginal births.
Of the babies born as a result of the caesarean section, 12.2% were overweight or at risk, compared to just 2.3% of sudden cesarean-born babies.
The compound remained when other possible reasons for this increased risk were considered: maternal ethnicity, age, education, body mass index, smoking, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes.
This study was one of the first to show what the effects of Caesarean section are urgent.
"The most likely explanation for the differences in susceptibility to overweight in children is that children born from the caesarean section are not exposed to maternal bacteria that are normally found during childbirth, nor are they subject to the stress of childbirth," said Gluckman Instytut Ligginsa headquartered at the University of Auckland.
Other evidence suggests that these two factors – maternal bacteria and the influx of hormones such as cortisol in an infant due to stress related to childbirth – have helped shape children on the path of developing a healthy weight in childhood.
"Children born as a result of a sudden Caesarean section have already experienced childbirth, and the membrane surrounding them in the uterus has been broken, which enabled mothers' bacteria."
The researchers say that if further research shows a risk of being overweight, healthcare professionals should consider discussing the potential long-term effects of planned cesarean cuts on children.
"This study is waving the flag: a growing epidemic of imperial cesarean section – the social trend, not the health trend – is not devoid of potential costs for the child," said Gluckman.
"On the other hand, when the caesarean section is indicated for medical reasons, there should be absolutely no hesitation, because in such circumstances it is best for the mother and the child."
The study was conducted by scientists from the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore.