Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size

    C-Section Tied to Childhood Asthma?

    Children Born Via Cesarean Section May Be More Likely to Develop Asthma, Allergies
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    May 21, 2008 -- Cesarean section rather than vaginal deliveries may raise the risk of childhood asthma and allergies by interfering with the child’s immune system development, according to a new study.

    Researchers say previous studies have suggested that babies born via C-section are more likely to develop childhood asthma and allergies, but the reasons are unclear.

    This study suggests that babies born via C-section have impaired immune cell function because of suppression of regulatory T cells, which regulate the development and function of the immune system.

    “This finding is exciting because it suggests that the mode of delivery may be an important factor influencing immune system development,” researcher Ngoc Ly, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, says in a news release.

    C-Section & Asthma Link Explained

    In the study, presented at the American Thoracic Society’s 2008 Conference in Toronto, researchers compared T cell suppression in a group of inner city newborns with a family history of asthma that put them at increased risk for childhood asthma.

    Fifty of the children were born via C-section, and 68 were born vaginally. T cell suppression was measured by analyzing the child’s cord blood.

    The results showed that children born by cesarean section had a reduction in T cell suppression function compared with the other children. For example, the average T cell suppression index was 0.78 for children born via C-section and 1.11 for those born vaginally.

    Ly suggests that the stress and process of labor itself or exposure to specific microbes through the birth canal in vaginal rather than C-section delivery may influence neonatal immune responses.

    “These findings are preliminary and further work is needed to explore potential mechanisms for the association between mode of delivery and neonatal immune responses,” Ly says. But researchers say this study provides a possible biological explanation for previous reports of the association between cesarean section and asthma.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
    slideshow fetal development
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    What Causes Bipolar
    Woman trying on dress in store
    pregnant woman
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    calendar and baby buggy
    dark chocolate squares