How Obesity and C-Sections May Be Connected in a Potentially Deadly Web

According to this recent Reuter’s article, researchers in Brazil have found that young adults who were born via Cesarean section are more likely to become obese than those who were delivered vaginally. The study suggests that C-sections could possibly be fueling the obesity epidemic.

Now any rational person would have read the above paragraph and thought “that’s crazy…it’s a wide-sweeping statement that over-generalizes and doesn’t factor in multiple variables!”

Well, of course…the study is just one of many trials and research efforts that still have a long way to go in order to manage the global obesity problem…let alone blaming it all on C-sections.

However, having said this, I thought I’d share with you the data from the study. The Brazilian researchers found that over 2,000 of the 23- to 25-year-olds subjects, 15 percent of them delivered via C-section were obese…compared to the 10 percent of subjects born naturally. Okay what difference does this 5 percent make?

Well, the team looked at a number of other variables that could potentially explain the link between C-sections and obesity. These variables included heavier birth weights as well as income and/or education levels because on average, mothers from a higher income bracket and/or level of education seemed to have a higher rate of C-sections.

Despite all of the variables, C-sections were still associated with an increase in the risk of adulthood obesity…in fact by as much as 58 percent!

I should stop now for a minute and say this is not an attack on C-sections. In cases where they’re medically warranted, C-sections can be important procedures that often save the lives of both mother and baby…however, it’s unfortunate that too many women (either by choice or by ill-advised ‘recommendations’ from their doctors) go down the C-section route, even though a vaginal delivery would’ve been fine in the first place.

Okay back to the topic of this entry…

Why is adulthood obesity linked to C-sections? It’s a good question that still has researchers scratching their heads. One popular theory is that C-sections prevent the infant from receiving helpful bacteria found in the vagina during natural delivery.

This bacterium is becoming the subject of a few pilot studies looking at the intestinal bacteria of newborns and comparing them between those born via C-section and those born vaginally.

It just so happens that the intestinal bacteria of obese people usually has a different composition to the intestinal bacteria of thinner people.

In light of the abovementioned study, the vicious circle of obesity seems to go around and around, only this time we’re looking at obese pregnant women.

This article in the Montreal Gazette discusses the findings from a study that highlights the life-threatening consequences for obese women and their babies.

The following is an excerpt from the article that drives home the seriousness of this issue:

“According to Statistics Canada, 29 per cent of women in Canada are overweight, and 23 per cent are obese. Obesity rates have been climbing fastest for women aged 25 to 34 - the group that delivers more than 60 per cent of babies born in Canada each year - nearly doubling in the past 25 years. Not only are obese women up to 2.5 times more likely than healthy-weight women to undergo a C-section, but also every risk of pregnancy is amplified by obesity.”

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that obese women who want to become pregnant should really consider losing weight first before conceiving. If not, then problematic C-sections and the possibility that the child may become obese in his/her adult years is just the tip of the iceberg.

When it comes to the chances of an obese woman and her baby developing major health problems, the odds lean more towards ‘when’ than ‘if’. Don’t gamble with your life or with your baby’s health…obesity can be beaten, it simply starts with you.

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