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Caesarean births linked to increased obesity, babies 'feel stressed' when left to cry, and prescription pizzas

A round-up of the health news headlines on Thursday 24 May

The news is feeling broody this morning, and the Daily Mail weighs in with the news that ‘Caesarean section babies 'face double the risk of obesity' than those delivered naturally'.

Apparently the ‘obesity epidemic' is being fuelled, in part, by the increase in surgical deliveries – which make up 25% of births in the UK, 7% of which are not medically necessary.

The paper reports: ‘In the US study, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital examined 1,225 mother and child pairs over three years, weighing them and measuring the babies' body fat. One in four of the deliveries was by caesarean. After taking into account obesity in the mother and other factors, they found almost 16 per cent of children delivered by caesarean were obese by the age of three compared with 7.5 per cent born naturally.'

Sue MacDonald, of the Royal College of Midwives, told the Mail: ‘This highlights the need to avoid caesareans that are not medically needed.'

And as if the prospect of being labelled fat before you're even old enough to have a body image wasn't stressful enough, the Telegraph reports that babies who are left to self-soothe continue to feel stressed for hours after they finish crying.

A study from the University of North Texas has found that controlled crying increases the level of the hormone cortisol. The study found: ‘On the third day of the program, results showed that infants' physiological and behavioural responses were dissociated. They no longer expressed behavioural distress during the sleep transition but their cortisol levels were elevated.' This means that although the babies seemed to be calming themselves faster, ‘they continued to experience high levels of physiological distress, as reflected in their cortisol scores'.

And now on to food, with the news that ‘Two prescription gluten-free pizza bases can cost the NHS as much as £34' says the BBC. Apparently the NHS spent £27m on gluten-free prescriptions in 2011 ‘to encourage patients with coeliac disease to stick to a gluten-free, nutritious diet so they do not go on to develop more serious illnesses', according to Andrew Lansley. However he also added that this area was ‘undergoing review'. The BBC finished its report with: ‘With NHS budgets under relentless pressure, these are increasingly being seen as rations the NHS cannot afford'.

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