A new study found that babies born via C-section are more likely to be obese when they reach adulthood. But hold off on the panicky sobs and shrieks — it's not so simple.
Predictably, this has sparked some alarmist headlines, but it doesn't really mean, as one diet site reports, that "C-Section Birth Could Make You Fat."
According to Reuters, in a study of more than 2,000 23 to 25-year-olds, Brazilian researchers found 15% of those delivered via cesarean were obese, compared to 10% of those born naturally. Factors such as heavier birth weight, income and the mother's education level were taken into account, but the c-section babies were still more likely to be obese.
The doctors admit this doesn't establish a causal relationship, but they speculate that it's possible the two factors could be related. The difference could be that babies born via C-section miss out on beneficial bacteria that congregate in the birth canal. Therefore, it may take longer for their digestive tracts to pick up microbes that influence their metabolism.
Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, director of the New York Obesity Research Center at St. Luke's Hospital, says the research is interesting, but he points out the most glaring omission: There's no information on the mother's weight. Obese mothers are both more likely to have c-sections and more likely to have overweight children.
Other studies are currently looking into a possible link between intestinal bacterial and weight, but there's little evidence in the research to suggest c-sections could be "fueling" the problem. The rate of c-sections is 33% of all births in the U.S., which is high. That's been attributed to a variety of factors, including older mothers, more obese mothers, and some hospitals giving women unnecessary c-sections because doctors are in a hurry. For now, let's save the concern for the women who get pushed into riskier procedures when they don't need them, not the unlikely chance that cesareans make you heavier.
Image via Valua Vitaly/Shutterstock.