Babies born by C-section more likely to be overweight, U of A research suggests

New research from the University of Alberta suggests the way the babies are delivered could increase the chances of childhood obesity.

Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj says babies born by the procedure are five times more likely to be overweight

A University of Alberta study found babies born by C-section have more microbes from the Lachnospiraceae family, which further increases their chances of being overweight as a child. (Derek Oliver/Canadian Press)

New research from the University of Alberta suggests the way the babies are delivered could increase the chances of childhood obesity.

Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj found a link between a certain family of bacteria called Lachnospiraceae and the relationship between maternal and child weight.

Kozyrskyj said it is well-known that babies born to overweight mothers are more likely to be overweight themselves.

She found that in overweight mothers, a baby delivered vaginally is three times more likely to become overweight by the time they are three months old. But a baby delivered via Caesarean section was five times more likely to become overweight.

"The type of microbes that the infant ends up with depends on the method of delivery," Kozyrskyj told CBC's Radio Active.

Kozyrskyj said babies born by C-section have more microbes from the Lachnospiraceae family, which further increases their chances of being overweight as a child.

The study surveyed more than 930 women and their three-month-old infants and looked at the types and quantities of different bacteria in the babies' stool.

The Lachnospiraceae microbes are known to increase fat storage in the body. The study shows a birth through the vaginal canal means the likelihood of childhood obesity is lower, but Kozyrskyj said there are better methods of prevention.

She said the risk of C-section is higher for overweight women, and said exercise and diet prior to giving birth is the best way to combat that.

"A woman who is overweight during pregnancy does have more complications during delivery," she said.

"Exercise during pregnancy and also a diet would prevent the C-section from the beginning."

But some C-sections are unavoidable, and Kozyrskyj said breastfeeding is an effective way to help stop babies from becoming overweight.