Association between caesarean section delivery and obesity in childhood: a longitudinal cohort study in Ireland

Type Article

Journal Article


G. Masukume; F. P. McCarthy; P. N. Baker; L. C. Kenny; S. M. Morton; D. M. Murray; J. O. Hourihane; A. S. Khashan

Year of publication



BMJ Open








OBJECTIVES: To investigate the association between caesarean section (CS) birth and body fat percentage (BF%), body mass index (BMI) and being overweight or obese in early childhood. DESIGN: Prospective longitudinal cohort study. SETTING: Babies After Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints: Evaluating the Longitudinal Impact on Neurological and Nutritional Endpoints cohort. PARTICIPANTS: Infants born to mothers recruited from the Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints study, Cork University Maternity Hospital between November 2007 and February 2011. OUTCOME MEASURE: Overweight or obese defined according to the International Obesity Task Force criteria. RESULTS: Of the 1305 infants, 362 (27.8%) were delivered by CS. On regression analysis, BF% at 2 months did not differ significantly by delivery mode. Infants born by CS had a higher mean BMI at 6 months compared with those born vaginally (adjusted mean difference=0.24; 95% CI 0.06 to 0.41, p value=0.009). At 2 years, no difference was seen across the exposure groups in the risk of being overweight or obese. At 5 years, the association between prelabour CS and the risk of overweight or obesity was not statistically significant (adjusted relative risk ratio, aRRR=1.37; 95% CI 0.69 to 2.69) and the association remained statistically nonsignificant when children who were macrosomic at birth were excluded from the model (aRRR=0.86; 95% CI 0.36 to 2.08). CONCLUSION: At 6 months of age, children born by CS had a significantly higher BMI but this did not persist into future childhood. There was no evidence to support an association between mode of delivery and long-term risk of obesity in the child.