Overweight mothers are more likely to have overweight babies, and the gut bacteria the babies inherit may in part be to blame.
Researchers report that overweight mothers are more likely to have a cesarean section, and that babies born by cesarean to those mothers have species of gut bacteria different from those in babies born to normal weight women. And that difference in the gut microbiome — specifically an abundance of bacteria of the family Lachnospiraceae in infants of overweight mothers — may contribute to an increased risk for obesity.
The study included 935 mother-infant pairs. Compared to children born to normal weight mothers, those born vaginally to overweight women were more than three times as likely to be overweight by age 3. But C-section babies born to overweight mothers were more than five times as likely to be overweight.
For normal weight mothers, vaginal or C-section delivery made no difference in the risk for overweight babies.
The study, in JAMA Pediatrics, controlled for breast-feeding, antibiotic exposure and other factors.
The senior author, Anita L. Kozyrskyj, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, said that there is no probiotic that would lead to a positive change in gut bacteria.
“If a cesarean is unavoidable, there is no easy answer,” she added, “but breast-feeding is effective in helping to prevent infants from becoming overweight.”
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