Linking Cesarean Sections and Childhood Asthma

Children delivered by cesarean sections had an increased risk of childhood asthma

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Women know that what they do during pregnancy affects the risk of childhood asthma. A new study shows an interesting link between delivery method and childhood asthma.

Children delivered via cesarean section had an increased risk of developing asthma by the age of three. Cesarean section did not increase the risk of lower respiratory tract infections or wheezing.

The method of delivery was not believed to be the direct cause of the increased risk.

"Talk to your doctor about ways to improve asthma risk during pregnancy."

The study was led by Maria Magnus, a researcher at the Department of Chronic Diseases at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Using data from 37,171 patients from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers compared children born via cesarean section and children born vaginally.

Children born via cesarean section, planned or emergency, had a higher risk of developing asthma by the age of three than children born vaginally. Children born via cesarean section whose mother did not have allergies were more susceptible to the increased risk.

That's not to say cesarean section caused the increased risk. Rather that children who may be delivered by cesarean section had underlying conditions that increased the susceptibility according to Dr. Magnus.

As previous reports show, what mothers do while pregnant affects the risk of a child developing a respiratory disorder. Exposure to BPA in plastics while pregnant increase the risk of a child developing asthmatic wheeze while flu shots are safe to get while pregnant as well.

The increased risk of asthma could be due to improper immune system development because there is not enough bacterial flora variety in the intestines of a child. The study also notes that children born by cesarean section were prone to an increased risk of respiratory problems during their first weeks.

Future studies need to evaluate different age groups to see if there is an increased risk. This study does not mean women should not undergo a cesarean sections but there is an interesting connection between method of delivery and an increased risk of developing childhood asthma that warrants further study.

This study was published in the December edition of American Journal of Epidemiology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 12, 2012
Last Updated:
January 14, 2012