Do C Sections Make Babies Fat?

New research debunks earlier theories that delivering babies via a Cesarean section could be one of the reasons for a child’s obesity. Whereas earlier we were being told that C section deliveries were likely responsible, more recent studies suggest otherwise.

new Brazilian study has concluded that babies born by C section are not at risk of obesity and that their risk of piling on the pounds is no higher than that of babies delivered vaginally.


An earlier Brazilian study had found that C sections could be a reason for obese children and that this method of delivering babies could be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Though researchers clarified that it wasn’t as if the C sections were causing babies to become obese, there was a correlation seen to exist between the two.

The explanation offered for this was that babies born via C section are not exposed to the friendly bacteria that reside in the birth canal, which babies born vaginally would be exposed to.

Since C section babies are not exposed to the bacteria, their metabolism may be affected influencing the tendency to obesity.

Another example of how friendly bacteria impact obesity levels is that of gut bacteria: obese people are seen to have lower levels of the friendly gut bacteria than normal weight people have in their digestive tract.

The matter is subject to a lot of study in Brazil, where over 50% of babies are born via C section. Now a more recent study is suggesting that the findings of the earlier study may not hold.

The earlier study was found to be flawed since it did not take into account other factors that affect obesity: the mother’s weight, her age, height and smoking habits as well as her level of education probably affect the baby’s obesity levels. Further factors such as family income, the birth weight of the child, as well as the education that the child receives are other factors that do impact rates of obesity and which were not taken into account.

The more recent study has explained the findings of the earlier study by raising an important point: women who are obese are more likely to undergo a C section and it is this fact rather than the actual method of childbirth that could impact the child’s obesity risk.

However the hypothesis that babies born vaginally have the benefit of friendly bacteria exposure remains an interesting one, and is one that researchers are not banishing just yet.


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