What is it about?

Researchers have discovered that the way a baby is born might affect their health. It is believed that changes in something called DNA methylation (a process that can turn genes on or off) could be involved. However, the current findings are mixed and mostly focused on very young babies. In this study, it was investigated whether being born vaginally or by cesarean section (C-section) influences DNA methylation at birth, during childhood, and in adolescence. It was also examined whether breastfeeding and the bond between mother and baby could change these effects. The study involved 876 mother-baby pairs from the UK participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. DNA methylation was measured in blood samples taken at birth, at 7 years old, and between 15-17 years old. Other factors like the mother's age, education, smoking habits, the child's sex, and how far along the pregnancy was when the baby was born were accounted for. It was found that at birth, two specific DNA markers (so called cytosine-phosphate-guanine dinucleotides) were slightly different depending on the mode of birth. However, these differences didn't seem to last into childhood or adolescence. Breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding didn't appear to change these effects.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

This study suggests that the way a baby is born might have a small impact on their DNA right at birth, but this effect seems to fade as they grow older. Other factors after birth might play a more important role in a child's development, and more research is needed to understand these influences better.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Mode of birth and DNA methylation at birth, in childhood, and in adolescence: Uncovering the relationship using ALSPAC data., Developmental Psychology, April 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/dev0001722.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page