Association Between Mode of Delivery and Risk of Infection in Early Childhood: A Cohort Study

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Background:Infections are the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children. Caesarean section as a potential risk factor for infection has recently gained interest. Delivery by caesarean section has increased greatly, with nonmedical reasons playing an increasing role. We aimed to analyze the association between mode of delivery and hospitalizations because of infection and symptoms of infection at home in early childhood.Methods:A cohort study, based on the Odense Child Cohort, following infants from gestation until a mean age of 3.5 years. Data on hospitalization because of infections were collected from the Danish National Patient Registry. Data on symptoms of infection at home were collected via a text message–based questionnaire.Results:A total of 1921 children were born by vaginal delivery, 283 by elective caesarean section and 227 by acute caesarean section. An adjusted regression model showed an incidence rate ratio for hospitalizations because of infection in children born by elective caesarean section compared with children born by vaginal delivery of 1.45 (95% confidence interval: 1.16–1.80; P = 0.001). The analyses on symptoms of infection at home found no associations between any symptom of infection and mode of delivery. Symptom-specific subanalyses showed contrasting results.Conclusions:Mode of delivery showed a strong association to hospitalization because of infectious disease during early childhood. Overall, no association was present between rate of symptoms of infection at home and mode of delivery.

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