Infants born through elective or planned caesarean section are more likely to develop asthma than those born via normal spontaneous delivery. Experts recommend that mothers should be given all the information needed before choosing whether to give birth via C-section.
In the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that children delivered via C-section were marginally more at risk of receiving hospital treatment for asthma than those who were born via vaginal delivery. Asthma occurs in 37 per 1,000 children born via C-section, compared to 34 per 1,000 in children born vaginally.
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen also found that C-section babies were also more likely to die from any cause before the age of 21. However, contrary to previous research, one of their findings also highlights that there is no heightened risk of obesity in C-section babies.
To land to their findings, the researchers collected data on more than 320,000 babies in Scotland from 1993 to 2007. These firstborns were followed up until early 2015 and findings show that C-section babies were at increased risk of asthma that required hospitalization, asthma inhaler use at 5 years old and even death.
However, researchers discovered that based on their findings, there were no increased risks of obesity at age 5, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer.
"Caesarean Sections are often necessary to save lives and prevent injuries," explained Mairead Black, clinical lecturer and research fellow in obstetrics at the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom.
"The main purpose of this study was to explore whether health outcomes in children up to very early adulthood differ according to how they are delivered," she said.
However, the researchers reiterate that their study is observational and they cannot absolutely say that caesarean section is the major cause of the slight increase in the risk of asthma.
"This adds to the growing body of evidence about the potential impacts on the baby of having a Caesarean section. We must also not overlook the impact of having a Caesarean on the woman. This is a major surgical procedure and one that should not be undertaken lightly," Black added.
Photo: Teza Harinaivo Ramiandrisoa | Flickr