(NaturalNews) New research out of the U.K. sheds light on yet another possible cause of widespread childhood obesity. Based on an analysis involving more than 10,000 British babies, roughly 9 percent of whom were born via C-section, researchers found that babies delivered the alternate route tend to be larger overall than babies born the natural way.
To arrive at this conclusion, Dr. Jan Blustein, Ph.D., M.D., from the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine evaluated data on 10,219 children born in Great Britain between 1991 and 1992. Initially, the children born via C-section weighed about 0.125 pounds less, on average, than those born vaginally. But after just a few weeks, the tables turned.
After just six weeks, children born via C-section were found to already be heavier than those born vaginally, and this trend reportedly continued as the children got older. By the time the children reached age 11, those born via C-section were found weigh a shocking 83 percent more than those born vaginally, which would help explain why an increasing number of children today are obese.
"There may be long-term consequences to children that we don't know about," says Dr. Blustein about the findings, noting that prevalence of C-sections has also risen quite substantially throughout the past several decades.
C-section babies miss out on natural transference of bacterial flora, which could explain their tendency towards obesity
Published in the International Journal of Obesity, the study also found that babies born via C-section generally lack the appropriate balance of gut bacteria due to the fact that they are not delivered through their mothers' birth canals. A normal vaginal birth imparts the necessary colonization of "friendly" bacteria in the gut that later helps regulate weight. But C-section babies miss out on this.
"Generally, the early colonization and establishment of the intestine with bacteria seems very important," adds Teresa Ajslev from the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Frederiksberg, Denmark, as quoted by Reuters. "Yet, much more work is needed before we can explain the mechanisms of the early bacterial colonization."
Many NaturalNews readers are already aware of the vital role gut flora plays in food digestion, nutrient absorption, and weight maintenance. When this bacterial balance is thrown off kilter, or when it never properly develops in the first place, health problems can ensue. For many people, accumulation of belly fat is one potential consequence of this imbalance.
C-sections also linked to allergies, asthma
Unfortunately, obesity is not the only potential consequence of C-section births. Another recent study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology in San Antonio, Texas, found that C-section babies are five times more likely than natural babies to develop allergies by age two. And another study published in journal Thorax back in 2008 found that C-section babies are also more prone to develop asthma.
"An association between Cesarean birth and increased risk of childhood obesity (as well as both asthma and allergies) would provide an important rationale to avoid non-medically indicated cesarean section," wrote the authors of the 2008 study about their findings.
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