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C-section increases asthma risk in children

Babies born by Caesarean section (C-section) have a moderately higher risk of developing asthma later on as compared with those born naturally.

C-section increases asthma risk in children

Babies born by Caesarean section (C-section) have a moderately higher risk of developing asthma later on as compared with those born naturally. To explore the possible association between delivery by C-section and later development of asthma, Norwegian researchers looked at the modes of delivery like emergency Caesarean, planned C-section and normal vaginal delivery among more than 1.7 million single births between 1967 and 1998. They used national insurance registry data to determine the number of children who, through the age of 18 years, developed severe asthma. Asthma risk was found to be about 60 percent higher among children born by emergency C-section and 40 percent higher for those born by planned C-section compared with children born spontaneously and vaginally. Further, children born by vaginal delivery requiring the use of instruments (forceps or vacuum) had a 20 percent higher risk of developing asthma later than those born by normal delivery. The findings could be credited to the fact that babies born by C-section are not exposed to their mothers' bacterial flora in the birth canal during birth, the absence of which is detrimental for development of the immune system. Also, C-section babies are less exposed to stress hormones and compression of the chest, since these mechanisms contribute to emptying the lungs of amniotic fluid, and this may negatively affect lung function in the long term. The reason for around 20 percent higher risk of asthma for children born by emergency C-section than those born by planned C-section needs further studies. Nonetheless, the findings confirm a definite association between C-section delivery and later development of asthma.
The Journal of Pediatrics
July 2008
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