C-Sections May Lead to Childhood Obesity

Friday, May 25, 2012

New York Medicaid wants women to have access to IUDs immediately after delivering a baby, to help with long-term family planning. (mr. toaster/flickr)

When it comes to childhood obesity, there are a lot of factors that have been blamed: processed food, portion sizes, and poverty, to name just a few. But what if childhood obesity isn’t simply about how kids live, but the manner in which they are born? A new study suggests that children delivered via C-section are twice as likely to be obese by their third birthdays than those delivered vaginally.

Dr. Matthew Gillman is the senior author if the new study and director of the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Medical School. Rachael Larimore believes that studies like Dr. Gillman’s should be taken with a grain of salt. Rachael is managing editor at Slate.com and she’s had three Cesarean sections. 


Dr. Matthew Gillman and Rachael Larimore

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [3]

C-sections might be more common among overweight women, so either genetics or habits might be passed on to child. Also, C-section mothers and babies may have more difficulty with breastfeeding, and breastfeeding is associated with less overweight babies. Did the study screen out these two possible variables?

Jun. 07 2012 09:56 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

The brilliant part of the research mentioned is that C-section births might be denied critical "final instructions" from the mother. Maternal nourishment is not just nutrient transfer, but also chemical information transfer.

Going to term may well allow more complete transfer of immune system or other biological coping methods. It seems logical at least that having built the hardware, the mother would have a role transferring some useful software close to the end of gestation.

I have another concern, that's been obvious for decades but not yet discussed. These interventions are changing our gene pool. Because parental C-sections predict daughter ones, indicating heritability as for many potentially fatal complications of life, we are evidently quickly changing the human gene pool to increase the population of people with life threatening conditions. I'm worried that we're not circumspect enough to see that as a problem.

May. 25 2012 10:34 AM
Ed from Larchmont


May. 25 2012 05:56 AM

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