By Riva Preil
On Monday, March 3, 2014, New York Times writer Nicholas Bakalar suggested an interesting and somewhat shocking connection in an article– that babies delivered via cesarean section were more likely to develop obesity as adults. Bakalar reviewed data from 15 previous observational studies and discovered that C-section babies were 26% more likely to develop into overweight adults and 22% more likely to develop into obese adults. The definition of “overweight” is body mass index/BMI of 25 or more, and the definition of “obese” is BMI of 30 or more.
It was irrelevant whether the vaginal delivery was natural, with forceps, or with vaccum extraction, and it also didn’t make a difference whether the C-section delivery was pre-labor or during labor. The only factor that was clinically significant in the research was the general method of delivery- C-section vs. vaginal.
But don’t stress just yet! This obviously does not mean that an obesity weight fate is sealed if you were delivered via C-section, nor does it necessarily mean that you can eat all the chocolate your heart desires if you were born vaginally. To date, there have been no studies conducted that confirm a causal connection between adult BMI and method of delivery.
That being said, further research is warranted in order to establish clearer connections, which will provide women with more information to assist their decision making process. Many factors must be considered in the process of making birth method decisions, including maternal and fetal health, and it is important to include one’s obstetrician in this important conversation.
Unfortunately, Bakalar did not present a hypothesis regarding WHY c-section deliveries are correlated with high adult BMI. At first glance, the two factors seem highly unconnected. Therefore, I invite you, dear reader, to share your thoughts. Why do you think there is a connection between birth method and adult BMI? The response that generates the most likes on Facebook will be entered into a raffle to win a free massage stick!