C-section born children have a 33% higher risk of having autism disorder and 17% of ADHD, according to a research that combined 61 studies across 19 countries.
The statistical analysis, which was recently published in the JAMA Network Open, does not show that caesarean section directly causes such medical problems. Other factors that have led doctors use the c-section procedure could be the reason for this, according to Reuters.
Researchers led by Tianyang Zhang from Karolinska Institute in Sweden have collected studies covering over 20 million births, starting from 1999. Using this information, they have created a large data set to assess the risks associated with c-section delivery., which may not be evident in smaller individual studies.
When evaluating the spectrum of autism disorder, the researchers have analyzed 29 population studies, of which 17 showed an increased risk that was high enough to be statistically significant.
From this database, the authors concluded, statistically, that among infants brought to the world naturally the rate of autism was 0.8%. In the case of those born through c-section procedure, the autism rate was 1%, which, statistically, indicates a 33% risk.
For attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Zhang’s team evaluated 14 population studies, of which only 5 presented a significant risk with c- section.
The conclusion was that babies born naturally had an ADHD rate of 2.4%, and those with caesarean section 2.8%, which indicated a risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder of 17% for children born by surgery. .
It does not show that caesarean section causes autism or ADHD
The conclusions of this study were not well received by other members of the scientific community.
According to other scientists, the study does not show that caesarean section causes autism or ADHD.
For his part, Tianyang Zhang, PhD student at Karolinska Institutet, emphasized that their study does not provide irrefutable evidence that caesarean section causes neuropsychiatric disorders.
According to him, cesarean delivery is often recommended by obstetricians if the mother has diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Some of these diseases may already have an effect on a child’s brain development when he is still in the womb, says the lead author of the research.
Risks of c-section for children
A combination of factors could contribute to the risk, which is why it would be wrong to demonize c-section procedures. Zhang said that these interventions should continue to be used when they are medically necessary.
There is already evidence that babies born with c-section procedure have an increased risks of obesity, allergies, childhood diabetes and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. On the other hand, surgical birth can save your life.
However, in many countries, there are high rates of c-section, the operation being performed even if the mother or fetus would not be exposed to risks as a result of a natural birth. Worldwide, according to the WHO, the rate of children born by cesarean section should be between 10 and 15%. In 1990, it was 6%, but in 2015 it had reached 21%.
The study showed that, regardless of whether the births by caesarean section were emergency or scheduled, the rates of autism or ADHD were the same.
Zhang’s team found indications of slightly higher rates of intellectual disability, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tic disorders, and eating disorders among children born through Caesarean section, but those relationships were not statistically significant, which means that they may be due chance.