August 26, 2008

Caesarean Babies Linked to Diabetes

Babies delivered by Caesarean section have a 20 percent higher risk of developing diabetes in childhood, researchers in Northern Ireland said.

Study leaders Dr. Chris Cardwell and Dr. Chris Patterson of the University of Belfast examined 20 published studies from 16 countries that included around 10,000 children with type 1 diabetes and more than 1 million children as controls.

The researchers found a 20 percent increase in the risk of children born by Cesarean section developing the disease -- an increase that could not be explained by factors such as birth weight, the age of the mother, order of birth, gestational diabetes and whether the baby was breast fed or not, all factors associated with childhood diabetes in previous studies.

"This study revealed a consistent 20 percent increase in the risk of type 1 diabetes," Cardwell said in a statement. "It is important to stress that the reason for this is still not understood."

The study findings are interesting, but unless a biological mechanism is established it would be unwise to read too much into this association, Patterson added.