Scientists in the United States have claimed that babies delivered by caesarean section are at double the risk of being obese due to differences in the bacteria in their gut when they are born.
With about a quarter of births in the UK now carried out by caesarean section, the majority of them emergencies, this study of 1,255 children, reported in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood, showed that the average three-year old child born by caesarean weighs around 0.23kg more than if they were born naturally.
The weight difference was explained as being due to women having a caesarean receiving antibiotics that could influence gut bacteria to develop obesity in the baby. It is believed that the bacteria increases the energy extracted from the diet and stimulates cells to increase insulin resistance, inflammation and fat deposits, risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes.
Lead author on the project, Susanna Huh, from the Children’s Hospital in Bosto, Massachusetts, said “A mother who chooses caesarean delivery on maternal request should be aware of potential health risks to her and her baby, including childhood obesity and other potential long-term risks.”
She added “In this study, infants delivered by caesarean section had twofold higher odds of childhood obesity, even after adjusting for maternal BMI, birth weight and other confounding variables.”

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