The association between caesarean section and childhood obesity revisited: a cohort study
- 1Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, Departments of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
- 2School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
- Correspondence to Dr Stefan Kuhle, Perinatal Epidemiology Research Unit, IWK Health Centre, 7th Floor Women's Site, Room 7108C, 5980 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, Canada B3K 6R8;
- Received 27 November 2012
- Revised 11 April 2013
- Accepted 14 April 2013
- Published Online First 16 May 2013
Background The mode of delivery has recently gained attention as another potential perinatal risk factor for childhood obesity but results are conflicting.
Objective To examine whether caesarean section is independently associated with childhood obesity after adjusting for a broad range of confounding factors.
Methods The current study used a population-based survey in Grade 5 students linked to a provincial perinatal registry in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Associations between caesarean section and childhood overweight and obesity at age 10/11 years were examined using multiple logistic regression.
Results Of the 4298 students who participated in the 2003 Children's Lifestyle and School Performance Study (response rate 51.1%), 3426 (80%) could be linked with information in the Atlee Perinatal Database, and 2988 mother-child pairs (70%) had complete information on the exposure and outcome. Compared to vaginal delivery, caesarean section was associated with offspring obesity (OR) 1.49, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.00) in the univariate analysis. After adding maternal prepregnancy weight to the multiple regression model, the OR for obesity dropped from 1.48 to 1.20 (95% CI 0.87 to 1.65). When caesarean section with and without labour were considered separately, we found no statistically significant associations relative to the vaginal delivery group (OR 1.24, 95% CI 0.84 to 1.82 and OR 1.03, 95% CI 0.58 to 1.84).
Conclusion Our results do not support a causal association between caesarean section and childhood obesity. Maternal prepregnancy weight was an important confounder in the association between caesarean delivery and childhood obesity and needs to be considered in future studies.