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Babies Born By C-Section Are '33 Percent More Likely To Develop Autism'

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According to new research, babies born by Cesarean Section are 33 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism and 17 percent more likely to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. But some experts claim its not the C-Section birth itself that causes these psychiatric disorders.

A C-Section is an operation by which a baby is delivered. Doctors cut across the abdomen and surgically remove the baby. In natural birth, the mother pushes her baby out through the birth canal.

C-Sections are most often performed to save a baby's life or protect the mother's health. However, mothers can also elect for a C-Section for personal or cultural reasons. Some women choose an operation because of their fear of natural birth.

Over one in five children are now born via C-Section. This number has tripled over the last thirty years. Ideally, between ten and fifteen percent of births should be C-Sections. However, in the UK the rate is currently around 25 percent.

Obviously, any woman would undergo a procedure to save her child's life, but new research suggests that elective C-Section may not be wise.

A newborn baby feet and hands of mother holding them tenderly
Credit: iStock

READ MORE: C-Section Birth Prevents Important Bacterial Functions From Being Passed On

According to a study of more than 20 million children, babies born by C-Section are more likely to be autistic or develop ADHD. The research shows that the chance of autism is 33 percent higher and the chance of ADHD is 17 higher. There was no difference between mother who elected C-section and those who required the operation for medical reasons.

In an effort to explain their findings, the researchers point to past research that suggests that it may have something to do with the fact that a baby born via C-Section is not exposed to important bacteria in the vaginal canal. Potentially, this could impact the development of a baby's immune system and lead to psychiatric problems.

Other experts suggest that the operation itself does not directly affect brain development. Rather, it could be that babies born via C-Section are already predisposed. This predisposition could also be related to why a C-Section was needed in the first place.

It is important to note that the study found no difference between mothers who elected C-Section and those who needed one for medical or emergency reasons. However, it could be that those mothers who feared natural birth suffered from anxiety disorders that could be passed on to their children.

Regardless, a C-Section only benefits the baby when it is done out of medical necessity.

READ NEXT: Study Suggest C-Section With Twins Carries Even More Risks

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