Caesarean delivery increases risk of childhood asthma


A study by the National Institute for Public Health in Bilthoven, Netherlands carried out on 3,000 children between birth and the age of eight suggests that babies born by Caesarean section had an 80% higher chance of suffering from asthma compared to those born

Researchers suggest that babies born naturally have a much stronger immune system as a result of their contact with bacteria in the vagina; this prepares them to resist forming allergic reactions. Babies born by C-section are only exposed to bacteria later on and thus there are significant differences in the bacteria found in their guts, which would imply a slow development of their immune system.

The development of asthma was seen to be three times higher for those delivered by C-section and with two allergic parents. Of the children examined, one in ten had two allergic parents.

In some parts of the world the rate of babies being born by Caesarean has risen from 5% in the 70s to 30% now; Caesarean deliveries account for 22% of all births in Britain at the moment.

Roduit C, et al "Asthma at 8 years of age in children born by caesarean section," Thorax 2008; DOI:10.1136/thx.2008.100875.

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First Published in Febuary 2009

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