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Caesarean section increases the risk of hospital care in childhood for asthma and gastroenteritis


Stellan Håkansson, Department of Paediatrics, University Hospital, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden. E-mail:


Objective To investigate if caesarean section (CS) increases the risk for childhood asthma and gastroenteritis with reference made to children born with vaginal delivery (VD).

Methods Retrospective study of data from linked Swedish medical service registers – Medical Birth Registry (MBR) and Hospital Discharge Registry (HDR). Data were obtained from women without any background/perinatal morbidity noted, and from children without any neonatal complications. Children that had reached at least 1 year of age and were found in the HDR were considered as cases, whereas children not found in the HDR or hospitalized for other causes than asthma or gastroenteritis were defined as controls. Odds ratios (OR) stratified for year of birth, maternal age, parity and smoking in early pregnancy were calculated. Investigations were made comparing the risk for in hospital treatment for asthma or gastroenteritis in CS children and in VD siblings of CS children. The overall inpatient morbidity in CS and VD children were also investigated.

Results The OR for asthma in CS children was 1.31 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.23–1.40]. The same OR, 1.31, was found for gastroenteritis (95% CI 1.24–1.38). The OR for CS children having experienced both asthma and gastroenteritis was further increased (1.74, 95% CI 1.36–2.23). The risk for asthma in VD siblings of CS children was not significantly increased, whereas VD siblings experienced a slightly increased risk for gastroenteritis. CS children had an increased overall in hospital morbidity when compared to VD children.

Conclusion There is a significant increase of the risk for developing symptoms of asthma and/or gastroenteritis that motivates admission for hospital care in CS children older than 1 year. It is speculated that a disturbed intestinal colonization pattern in CS children may be a common pathogenic factor.

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