Caesarean babies more likely to develop diabetes

Aug 26, 2008

Babies delivered by Caesarean section have a 20 per cent higher risk than normal deliveries of developing the most common type of diabetes in childhood, according to a study led by Queen's University Belfast.

The team, led by Dr Chris Cardwell and Dr Chris Patterson, examined 20 published studies from 16 countries including around 10,000 children with Type 1 diabetes and over a million control children.

They found a 20 per cent increase in the risk of children born by Caesarean section developing the disease. The increase 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.

Dr Cardwell, from the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, said: "This study revealed a consistent 20 per cent increase in the risk of Type 1 diabetes. It is important to stress that the reason for this is still not understood. It is possible that children born by Caesarean section differ from other children with respect to some unknown characteristic which consequently increases their risk of diabetes, but it is also possible that Caesarean section itself is responsible.

"Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, and one theory suggests that being born by Caesarean section may affect the development of the immune system because babies are first exposed to bacteria originating from the hospital environment rather than to maternal bacteria."

Dr Chris Patterson said: "The study findings are interesting, but unless a biological mechanism is established it would be unwise to read too much into this association between Caesarean section delivery and diabetes.

"Fortunately figures from the Northern Ireland Type 1 diabetes register indicate that only around two per 1,000 children will develop diabetes by their 15th birthday so a 20 per cent increase is on quite a low baseline risk."

Diabetes is a serious condition that, if not managed, can lead to fatal complications including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and amputations. There are 2.3 million people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes and 250,000 with Type 1 diabetes. In Northern Ireland over 62,000 people have diabetes, 6,000 of them with Type 1 diabetes.

Around one in four babies in Northern Ireland are delivered by Caesarean section, which is significantly higher that the World Health Organisation's recommended rate of 15 per cent.

Iain Foster, Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: "Not all women have the choice of whether to have a Caesarean section or not, but those who do may wish to take this risk into consideration before choosing to give birth this way.

"We already know that genetics and childhood infections play a vital role in the development of Type 1 diabetes in children, but the findings of this study indicate that the way a baby is delivered could affect how likely it is to develop this condition later in life. Diabetes UK Northern Ireland would welcome more research in this area."

Source: Queen's University Belfast

Explore further: Measles off to a fast start, as US cases trend up

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Youth diabetes in Europe set to explode: study

May 28, 2009

Incidence of Type 1 diabetes in children aged under five in Europe is set to double by 2020 over 2005 levels while cases among the under-15s will rise by 70 percent, according to a study published on Thursday.

Pregnant women at risk of Vitamin D deficiency

Apr 05, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Pregnant women with low levels of vitamin D are more likely to develop gestational diabetes, and, their babies are more prone to bone weakness, according to a study and editorial published in the latest issue ...

Obesity prevention begins before birth

Aug 04, 2010

Expectant mothers who gain large amounts of weight tend to give birth to heavier infants who are at higher risk for obesity later in life. But it's never been proven that this tendency results from the weight gain itself, ...

Small investment could save 11 million African lives

Jul 26, 2010

In the next five years, 11 million African women and children could be saved by creating near-universal availability of key life-saving interventions, according to The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and ...

Recommended for you

Saudi Arabia reports pilgrim infected with MERS

2 hours ago

In the past 24 hours, Saudi Arabia has reported four new deaths from a Middle East virus related to SARS and 36 more cases of infection, including a Turkish pilgrim in Mecca.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery

A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant (CNV) genetic ...

Team reprograms blood cells into blood stem cells in mice

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have reprogrammed mature blood cells from mice into blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), using a cocktail of eight genetic switches called transcription factors. The reprogrammed ...

Study links California drought to global warming

While researchers have sometimes connected weather extremes to man-made global warming, usually it is not done in real time. Now a study is asserting a link between climate change and both the intensifying California drought ...