Happy Birth Day Lily!

Cesarean Birth: Another Myth of Obesity Falls

“With a cesarean section, the path to obesity may begin at birth,” said the LA Times last year. The Harvard School of Public Health says “cesarean delivery may lead to increased risk of obesity among offspring.” The warnings of this link are abundant. But, they are not holding up to close scrutiny.

A new study in Pediatrics finds no lasting difference in the risk of childhood obesity for cesarean births. They analyzed the outcomes for  1,066 children up to age 13 delivered vaginally or by C-section. The study authors summarized, saying:

These findings suggest that infants delivered by cesarean have a divergent growth pattern during early infancy but show no risk for overweight in later childhood.

A Convenient Myth

Academic consensus holds that the rate of cesarean births in the U.S. – about one in three – is too high. A recent study compared outcomes in various countries and concluded that a rate of 19% yields the best outcomes for mothers and infants. We have good reasons to reduce the rates of cesarean births and it’s an elusive goal. So, linking obesity risk with cesarean births fits neatly with that agenda. It adds another reason to avoid that risks of a C-section when it’s not needed.

But it’s false. So please take C-sections off the list of things that will cause childhood obesity.

Click here for the study in Pediatrics and here for more from Forbes. But if you click through to the Forbes article, disregard the misinformation they include about breastfeeding and obesity. The idea that breastfeeding prevents obesity is another convenient myth that just won’t die.

Happy Birth Day Lily! Photograph © Howard Ignatius / flickr

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June 3, 2017

2 Responses to “Cesarean Birth: Another Myth of Obesity Falls”

  1. June 03, 2017 at 10:06 am, TraciMalone said:

    So, should the Obesity Society take off birth by c-section in their “Potential Contributors to Obesity” infographic shown in yesterday’s story “Is Fitness Harder in the Twenty tens?”?

    • June 04, 2017 at 4:19 am, Ted said:

      That’s an astute question, Traci. Research will likely continue on this question. As a target for research interest, it might stay on the list. On a list of warnings for expectant mothers, it doesn’t belong.