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C-sections and antibiotic usage during pregnancy causes of childhood obesity

  • Published at 12:04 pm December 5th, 2014
C-sections and antibiotic usage during pregnancy causes of childhood obesity

A new study led by Columbia University scientists suggests two possible causes of childhood obesity: taking antibiotics during pregnancy and getting a Caesarean section.

The research, published online in International Journal of Obesity, found that children who were exposed to antibiotics during the second or third trimester of pregnancy had a higher risk of obesity at age 7. Authors say the study is the first to explore the effect of antibiotics during those time frames. Previous research has shown that antibiotics administered in early life are liked to an increased chance of childhood obesity.

In the new study, elective and non-elective C-sections were also associated with a higher risk of obesity in offspring. Antibiotics impact microbes in the body and may enter fetal circulation by way of the placenta, researchers noted. The bacteria that naturally live in the colon help maintain health, and any imbalance in these populations can produce illness. Disturbances in the transmission of bacteria from mother to offspring can increase the child’s chances of developing various ailments, including obesity, the researchers said.

Children who were exposed to antibiotics during the mother’s second and third trimester of pregnancy had an 84 percent higher risk of obesity, compared with children who were not exposed.

The study considered 727 healthy, non-smoking pregnant women recruited at a New York clinic between 1998 and 2006. Study authors tracked 436 of those mothers and their offspring until the children turned 7 years old.

According to the press release, 16 percent of the monitored mothers used antibiotics during the second or third trimester of their pregnancies.

Study authors say their conclusions are consistent with previous research. 

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