Caesarean babies '80% more likely to have asthma'

Babies born by caesarean section are 80% more prone to asthma than babies delivered vaginally, suggests research.

Photograph: iStockphoto
Photograph: iStockphoto

The findings are based on almost 3,000 children whose respiratory health was monitored until they reached the age of 8.

By the time the children were 8 years old, 12.4% had been diagnosed with asthma for which they had been prescribed inhaled steroids.

Just 8.5% of children had been born by caesarean but they were almost 80% more likely to have been diagnosed with asthma than their vaginally-delivered peers.

Rates of asthma have soared in industrialised countries in parallel with a rise in caesarean section births, which have increased from 5% in the 1970s to more than 30% in 2000.

The authors say that the link between caesarean section births and an increased risk in asthma may lie in the timing of the priming of the immune system: caesarean delivery delays exposure to microbes.

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