Cesareans Linked to Obesity in Children

06.12.12 New study finds babies born via C-sections have higher risk of being obese at 3 years old.


The debate over Cesarean sections is about to reignite, thanks to a new study, Time magazine reports. Researchers' findings, published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, suggest that "babies born by Cesarean section were more than twice as likely to be obese by age 3 as those born vaginally," the article says.

The Boston-based study examined 1,255 children born between 1999 and 2002 and then re-examined them at age 3. According to the findings, about 23 percent of them were born via C-section. At age 3, 15.7 percent of those children were obese compared with 7.5 percent of children born vaginally.

Under this theory, there are going to be a lot of obese children considering that an estimated 1 in 3 babies in the U.S. today is delivered via C-section. In 2011, C-sections accounted for 32.8 percent of all deliveries, up from 20.7 percent in 1996, according to recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

One reason cited for the C-section-obesity link is "how delivery affects the makeup of bacteria that populate infants' digestive tracts," Time reports.

Having a Cesarean may seem like the easier and safer way to give birth, but it does pose some risks for you and your baby. Check out our Why You Don't Want A C-Section page for five ways to avoid having one.

And as much as you plan on having a natural childbirth, some C-sections are unavoidable (we're not talking about the elective reasons). Be prepared and read our Beyond the "C" page for expert advice on recovering from a surgical delivery.