In a recent study by Columbia University it was discovered that there are two leading causes of childhood obesity: getting a Caesarian section and taking antibiotics when pregnant.
This research was published online in the International Journal of Obesity, and concluded that mothers who use antibiotics when their pregnancy is four to nine months old increase chances of their children becoming obese by age 7. The authors note that this was the first ever study to explore the effects of using antibiotics during the second and third trimester of pregnancy, as documented in the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health news release. Earlier research shows that if antibiotics are administered early in life there are higher chances of childhood obesity.
In this new study, both the elective and non-elective Caesarian sections were linked to higher risk of offspring obesity.
The Researchers discovered that antibiotics impact on microbes in the human body and are likely to enter the fetal circulatory system through the placenta. The colon normally has beneficial bacteria, and creating a small imbalance in their population may result in illness. Any slight disturbance on the process of bacteria transmission from mother to offspring increases the odds of the child developing conditions like obesity, the researchers noted.
If a mother takes antibiotics during 4-9 months of pregnancy, she increases the chances of her child being obese, compared to when she does not take any.
The news release says that, according to study author Noel Mueller who works as a researcher at Columbia University Mailman School Public Health and Institute of Human Nutrition, prenatal antibiotics considerably increase the risk of offspring developing obesity and there is need for prospective confirmatory studies. Mueller adds that if the findings are confirmed, they will be the newest mechanisms of influencing child growth during the prenatal stage. The researcher adds that the findings aren’t meant to discourage expectant mothers from using antibiotics, but advise them to take the right dosage since in most cases such drugs are overprescribed.
The study sample comprised of 727 healthy expectant women, who also do not smoke, and were admitted at a New York clinic in the time period 1998-2006. The authors of this study tracked the mothers and their children for seven years after giving birth. The press release reported that, 16 percent of the mothers under study used antibiotics during 4-9 months of pregnancy.
In another different part of this study that did not take into account use of antibiotics during pregnancy, it was discovered that mothers who deliver through Caesarian section increase chances of their children developing obesity by 46 percent. The researchers took into account sex, gestational antibiotics, maternal age, delivery mode, breastfeeding in year1, birth weight, and ethnicity, during analysis of their findings.
The study authors insist that their conclusions are in line with research carried out earlier on.
Study author Andrew Rundle, who is an associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said in the news release that as much as earlier studies reported that the outcomes depend on whether the Caesarian section was optional or mandatory, this study did not find evidence to support this. The study concludes that Caesarian section considerably increases risk of childhood obesity.
Just like use of antibiotics during pregnancy, Caesarian section birth is likely to reduce transmission of beneficial bacteria from mother to child that occurs with normal delivery through the vagina.
Mueller said that more research should be done to find ways of reducing unnecessary Caesarian sections and to provide the new born with beneficial bacteria after a Caesarian section.
According to Rundle, there is need to research further on the entire ecosystem of bacteria in the human body. Specifically, how it’s delivered from mother to child, and how it’s affected by factors like Caesarian delivery.
Such a research will shed more light on ways of creating an early platform for supporting healthy growth and development of young children.