The findings coincide with a rise in the popularity of caesareans, as mothers choose to delay motherhood, and could explain the increase in the incidence of type-1 diabetes across the UK.
Currently, 24 per cent of pregnancies in England are delivered by caesarean, although the WHO recommends a rate of just 15 per cent.
This latest study examined data from 20 published studies on children with type-1 diabetes who were born by caesarean.
The researchers found that babies born by caesarean had a 20 per cent higher risk of diabetes compared with babies born by natural birth even after adjusting for other risk factors such as birth weight and whether the baby was breast-fed or not.
Lead researcher Dr Chris Cardwell, from Queen’s University Belfast, said: ‘It is important to stress that the reason for this is still not understood although it is possible that the caesareans section itself is responsible, perhaps because babies born via that method are first exposed to bacteria originating from the hospital environment rather than to maternal bacteria.’
Diabetologia 2008; 51:726-735
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