C-Sections may not increase obesity risk after all

For some time now, we’ve been hearing that birth by C-section could increase babies’ risk of becoming overweight. But a large, new study involving pairs of siblings suggests that may not be the case.

Several studies have suggested a link between childhood obesity and birth by C-section. But those studies were often small and didn’t take into account other factors that could influence children’s weight such as cultural differences, race and ethnicity, the mom’s weight, or whether their family was poor.

In the most recent study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, scientists sought to rule out the influence of family circumstances on obesity risk by comparing children born to the same mom but delivered differently. Using long-term clinical data collected on thousands of children in eastern Massachusetts, the researchers identified 2,000 sibling pairs in which one child was delivered vaginally, and one by C-section.

Among children in the same family, the mode of birth had no impact on whether or not the children were overweight by age 5, the researchers found. They concluded that reducing C-section frequency would likely not have a big impact on childhood obesity rates.

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C-section delivery

The study had some limitations. All of the families had health insurance, so the findings might not apply to moms and children without good access to medical care. Also, the researchers did not have information about the moms’ pre-pregnancy weight, which could have influenced their child’s future obesity risk.

Nevertheless, the large number of siblings included in the study make the findings significant.

Many other factors have been linked to childhood obesity, including unhealthy foods, too much added sugar, hormone-disrupting chemicals in plastics, and excessive weight gain during pregnancy. The good news is, if you’re worried about your child’s weight, there are things you can do to protect him from the dangers of obesity.

What do you think about this study’s findings? In your opinion, what could be done to address the childhood obesity epidemic?

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