Danish research: Children born by C-section face higher chronic illness risk

Findings based on 2 million children born between 1973 and 2012

People born by Caesarean section are more susceptible to a number of chronic illnesses – including asthma, allergies, gout, intestinal illness and leukaemia – than people who are born vaginally, according to a new massive Danish study.

The study, which has just be published in the scientific periodical Pediatrics, has researched the link between C-sections and immunological illnesses in 2 million Danish children born over a 35-year period from 1973 to 2012.

”We show for the first time that C-sections can be a common risk factor for several immunological illness – both child illnesses like asthma and allergy, but also illnesses that only develop later in life,” Hans Bisgaard, a professor of child asthma at the Danish Child Asthma Centre in Copenhagen, told science site Videnskab.dk

The research revealed that children born via C-section are more often hospitalised because of asthma, juvenile gout, inflammatory intestinal illness, immune defects, leukaemia or connective tissue diseases during their lives than their vaginally-born peers.

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More specifically, the risk of getting asthma is about 20 percent higher when born by C-section. Additionally, the risk of immune defects is about 40 percent higher and the risk of juvenile gout is about 10 percent higher.

But the research doesn't prove that a C-section is the reason for developing illnesses later in life as the study doesn't show a direct link. There could be a number of reasons why C-section children are more often ill, Bisgaard argues.

Previous studies have shown that C-section children have are at greater risk than others at becoming asthmatics, allergics and diabetics, but it's the first time that a single study has found a link between C-sections and a number of immunological illnesses.

”We know there are a number of genes that are common for several of these immunological illnesses, and the C-section can be one of several factors that activate the said genes so that people become ill,” Bisgaard said.