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June 15 2001 • Volume 36 • Number 12


Three times greater risk
Cesarean Birth Associated With Adult Asthma

Heidi Splete

Birth by cesarean section may lead to asthma in adulthood, said Dr. Baizhuang Xu of the Imperial College School of Medicine, London, and associates.

In a prospective cohort study of 1,953 babies born in 1966, 88% were born via normal vaginal delivery, 5% by cesarean, and the remainder by vaginal delivery in which vacuum extraction, forceps, or augmentation for breech presentation were used.

When the babies born by cesarean were 31 years old, 13.6% of them were diagnosed with asthma, compared with 4.5% of those delivered vaginally. The babies in the C-section group had more than a three times greater risk for having asthma in adulthood, compared with those in the vaginal delivery group, after adjustment for various factors such as maternal age (odds ratio 3.23).

There were no strong associations between C-section and atopy, atopic eczema, and hay fever (J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 107[4]:732-33, 2001).

It's possible that unknown factors associated with C-section may explain the observation or, alternatively, that fetuses prone to asthma could express discomfort in utero that might lead to a cesarean delivery, the investigators said.

Copyright © 2001 by International Medical News Group. Click for restrictions.