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Caesarean sections associated with risk of asthma
Date:6/18/2008

Babies born by Caesarean section have a 50 % increased risk of developing asthma compared to babies born naturally. Emergency Caesarean sections increase the risk even further. This is shown in a new study based on data from 1.7 million births registered at the Medical Birth Registry at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

The goal of the study was to investigate the possible link between being born by Caesarean section and later development of asthma.

Summarised results from the study:

  • Compared to children born in the natural way (i.e. spontaneously and vaginally), children born by Caesarean section had an approximately 50 % increased risk of developing asthma.

  • Children born vaginally, but with assistance from vacuum or forceps, had a 20 % increased risk of asthma.

  • For children born between 1988 and 1998, planned Caesarean section was associated with an approximately 40 % increased risk of asthma while emergency Caesarean section was associated with a 60 % increased risk.

Why do Caesarean sections give an increased risk of asthma?

"We found a moderately strong association between birth by Caesarean section and asthma in childhood", says doctor and research fellow Mette Christophersen Tollnes, who works for both the Norwegian Institute of Public Health and the Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care at the University of Bergen, Norway.

She is first author of the article "Cesarean Section and Risk of Severe Childhood Asthma: A Population-Based Cohort Study" which is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Tollnes explains that there are two main theories about why Caesarean sections could cause asthma.

"The first is that babies who are born by Caesarean section are not exposed to their mothers' bacteria during birth, which is detrimental for development of the immune system. The other is that babies
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Contact: Media Contact
info@fhi.no
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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