Fertility and pregnancy * Allergies and hay fever

Caesarean babies more likely to develop asthma

zone image Babies born by Caesarean section at a higher risk of being asthmatic

Babies born by Caesarean section are 80% more likely to develop asthma, according to a study published today in the peer reviewed journal, Thorax.

Scientists monitored the health of almost 3,000 babies until they reached eight years old. By this time they found that nearly 12% had developed asthma and required steroids which needed to be inhaled. Approximately 9% of these were born by Caesarean section and were 80% more likely to be diagnosed with asthma compared with babies born vaginally. However, this was not the only factor involved. Babies were three times more likely to go on to be asthmatic if both parents were allergic, compared with those born to parents without allergies.

"The increased rate of Caesarean section is partly due to maternal demand without medical reason,” said lead researcher Dr.Caroline Roduit. “In this situation the mother should be informed of the risk of asthma for her child, especially when the parents have a history of allergy or asthma."

The scientists suggested that a natural birth may help ‘prime’ or kick-start the newborn baby’s immune system as the baby comes into contact with the bacteria in the mother’s birth canal.

Dr. Mike Thomas, chief medical advisor to Asthma UK says: "Sometimes a Caesarean section is needed for medical reasons, but where possible a natural birth is better."

More than five million people currently have asthma in the UK, over one million who are children. Although some grow out of the condition, for many it becomes a life long condition.

This article was published on Tue 2 December 2008

Image © Wendy Kaveney - Fotolia.com

Related Stories

Use this story

Link to this page
Printer friendly version

Share this page