(NaturalNews) Children delivered by cesarean section (c-section) are significantly more likely to develop asthma and allergies later in life than children delivered through natural, vaginal birth, according to a study conducted by researchers from National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands.
A c-section is a procedure in which a child is surgically removed through a mother's abdomen, rather than emerging naturally through the vaginal opening. It is medically recommended only in cases where vaginal delivery would seriously endanger the life of infant or mother, but is becoming more common as many women's preferred method of childbirth.
Researchers compared the rates of asthma and allergies among 2,917 eight-year-olds, comparing the rates between those who had been delivered vaginally and those who had been delivered by c-section. They found that the risk of asthma was 79 percent higher in those delivered by c-section compared with those delivered vaginally. The correlation between c-section and asthma risk was even higher among children born to one or more parents with allergies.
"Our results emphasize the importance of gene-environment interactions on the development of asthma in children," the researchers wrote. "The increased rate of cesarean section is partly due to maternal demand without medical reason. In this situation, the mother should be informed of the risk of asthma for her child, especially when the parents have a history of allergy or asthma."
C-section is already known to raise a child's risk of diabetes by 20 percent, compared with vaginal delivery. In spite of this known health risk, rates of the procedure have been steadily rising in the United States over the last 25 years, increasing by 46 percent since 1985 to a current level of more than 30 percent of all births.
Childhood asthma rates have also been on the rise, particularly among urban populations, with rates increasing by two to four times in the last 30 years in some countries.