New research finds that children born by cesarean section are 80% more likely to develop celiac disease. Published in the June issue of Pediatrics, Dr. Mathias Hornef and his team of scientists from the Hannover Medical School in Germany have yet to determine why the link exists.
According to US News & World Report:
…one possible explanation is that children born via C-section don't pick up the same microbes from their mothers as babies that pass through the vaginal canal, Hornef said. This alters the infant's colonization with gut microflora, or 'good' microbes, that aid in digestion and fending off pathogens.
Previous research suggests there are differences in the intestinal bacterial flora between children born vaginally or by C-section.
'We are only beginning to understand the complexity of the host-microbial interaction at the intestinal mucosa, and it is difficult to make firm conclusions at this stage,' Hornef said
Researchers conducted the study using data from almost 2,000 children seen at outpatient clinics for a variety of gastrointestinal conditions.
"Researchers who were not involved in the study called the results intriguing, but said there may be explanations that don't involve the way babies were born.
For example, Dr. Daniel Leffler, director of clinical research at the Celiac Disease Center at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said many of the children's mothers may have had undiagnosed celiac disease. Given that celiac disease can be inherited, and that undiagnosed celiac disease increases the risk of cesarean section, undiagnosed disease 'would be more than enough to explain the increased number of cesareans,' he told Reuters Health.
'It may well be that celiac disease is showing up in the children, rather than in the mothers, because people are more alert to the possibility in kids,' he added.
Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said it would also be good to study whether there's a similar link between cesarean birth and diabetes, which is closely related to celiac disease."
For more information:
C-Sections May Raise Celiac Disease Risk in OffSpring
Do C-Sections Increase The Risk of Celiac Disease?