(HealthDay News) – Infants delivered by cesarean section have two-fold higher odds of childhood obesity, even after adjusting for variables like maternal body mass index (BMI) and birth weight.

To investigate whether delivery by cesarean section is a risk factor for childhood obesity, Susanna Y. Huh, MD, MPH, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective prebirth cohort study, enrolling women during early pregnancy, between 1999–2002. A total of 1,255 children were followed after birth, and body composition was assessed at 3 years of age.

The researchers found that 22.6% of children in the cohort were delivered by cesarean section. Of these children, 15.7% were obese at age 3 years compared with 7.5% of children born vaginally. After adjustment for variables, including maternal prepregnancy BMI and birth weight, birth by cesarean section correlated with increased likelihood of obesity at the age of 3 years (odds ratio, 2.1), higher mean BMI z-score (0.2 units), and an elevated sum of triceps plus subscapular skinfold thicknesses (0.94mm).

“Infants delivered by cesarean section may be at increased risk of childhood obesity,” the authors write. “Further studies are needed to confirm our findings and to explore mechanisms underlying this association.”

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