Researchers led by Dr Chris Cardwell and Dr Chris Patterson Queen’s University Belfast examined 20 published studies from 16 countries including around 10,000 children with Type 1 diabetes and over a million control children.
They found a 20 per cent increase in the risk of children born by Caesarean section developing the disease. The increase could not be explained by factors such as birth weight, the age of the mother, order of birth, gestational diabetes and whether the baby was breast-fed or not, all factors associated with childhood diabetes in previous studies.
Cardwell said: "This study revealed a consistent 20 per cent increase in the risk of Type 1 diabetes. It is important to stress that the reason for this is still not understood. It is possible that children born by Caesarean section differ from other children with respect to some unknown characteristic which consequently increases their risk of diabetes, but it is also possible that Caesarean section itself is responsible.
Around one in four babies in Northern Ireland are delivered by Caesarean section, which is significantly higher that the World Health Organisation’s recommended rate of 15 per cent.
Iain Foster, Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: "Not all women have the choice of whether to have a Caesarean section or not, but those who do may wish to take this risk into consideration before choosing to give birth this way. We already know that genetics and childhood infections play a vital role in the development of Type 1 diabetes in children, but the findings of this study indicate that the way a baby is delivered could affect how likely it is to develop this condition later in life. Diabetes UK Northern Ireland would welcome more research in this area."
MEDICA.de; Source: Queen’s University Belfast