Past studies have implied that a link exists between cesarean birth and obesity, and a new study has only helped to affirm this observation. The study was done on the indigenous Maya people; and the findings were published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
It was observed that when mothers had high BMI rates, their children were also fatter. The study involved 57 women and 108 children born between 2007 and 2014. The children were therefore tracked for a couple of years during their childhood to see how their weights changed.
Although none of the children were obese, as indicated by BMI, some of them were overweight. However, it was observed that a cesarean birth made quite a difference in a child’s weight. In particular, when the weights of 5-year old children born of high-BMI mothers were averaged, it was noted that those delivered by C-section weighed 17 kgs while those born naturally weighed 15.5 kgs – a difference of nearly 10%.
The subjects of this study were chosen mainly because they were isolated from the dietary influences of the modern world. Therefore, these people have not been exposed to other causes of obesity and excess weight such as foods high in sugar and fat content. The Mayan people have a diet that is mainly made of fruits, vegetables, beans, and maize. Furthermore, the children are not bottle fed, but rather breastfed.
The reason for the difference in the weights of children born using vaginally and those born through a C-section is thought to lie in the fact that children born naturally are exposed to bacteria in the mother’s birth canal. This bacteria then enters the child’s gut, where it helps improve immunity and metabolism.
Lack of these benefits in children born through cesarean delivery makes them more predisposed to weight gain and related health issues. These findings should serve as a cautionary tale for a country like the US where the number of cesarean births is on the rise.
WHO recommends that only 15% of all births be cesarean, but the US has more than double that amount because the country had more than 32% cesarean births in 2014. Many of these C-sections are therefore unnecessary.
As a matter of fact, cesarean births should be avoided unless completely necessary because otherwise, they cause more problems for the children after they are born. And considering that a country like the US already has a serious childhood obesity problem, anything that unnecessarily adds to this problem should be avoided.