A new study has fortified the link between Cesarean births and obesity in children suggesting that it is possible to predict child growth patterns till the age of five based on the size of mother during delivery.
Researchers at Purdue University carried out a study involving 57 mothers and their 108 children born to them between 2007 and 2014. Researchers tracked the children`s growth monthly till the age of five. While none of the children were obese according to WHO standards and only five percent were overweight, researchers state that there were notable differences in the sizes of children that suggest that birth method could play a role in how children develop.
A 5-year-old child, who had a high birth weight, and was born to a high-BMI mother, for instance, would weigh on average 15.5 kg if delivered vaginally. If delivered by cesarean, the child would weigh 17 kg – nearly 10 per cent more. Researchers studied Yucatec Maya farmers in Mexico because the village children are not impacted by many other factors that are linked to obesity such as high-sugar, high-fat diets or more sedentary lifestyles.
Maya children have physically active childhoods and their diet mostly consists of maize, fruits, vegetables and beans. Children are breast fed until weaning at around 2.5 years of age, eliminating bottle feeding as a source of possible weight gain.
Many populations fit those criteria, but the Maya villagers recently gained access to modern health care facilities and hospital births through a series of poverty-alleviation programs.This makes them stand out from other rural or indigenous groups, researchers note.
One theory about cesarean births and obesity involves microbiome, the “good bacteria” of the gut. It is believed that children are exposed to immune-stimulating bacteria from mothers in a vaginal birth; however, they are not exposed to such “good bacteria” when born via cesarean. Those bacteria go on to colonize the infant gut, and play important roles in the development of immune function and metabolism. Improper colonization of the gut microbiome can lead to obesity and its related diseases.
Researchers point out that this is especially pertinent as cesarean rates climb. More than 32 per cent of births were via cesarean in the United States in 2014, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of those cesareans could be unnecessary as the World Health Organization recommends a maximum cesarean rate of 15 percent.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Human Biology.