Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 1426–1433 | Cite as

Does Pet-Keeping Modify the Association of Delivery Mode with Offspring Body Size?

  • Andrea E. Cassidy-Bushrow
  • Ganesa Wegienka
  • Suzanne Havstad
  • Albert M. Levin
  • Susan V. Lynch
  • Dennis R. Ownby
  • Andrew G. Rundle
  • Kimberley J. Woodcroft
  • Edward M. Zoratti
  • Christine Cole Johnson


Caesarean-section (CS) delivery increases risk of childhood obesity, and is associated with a distinct early-life gut microbiome, which may contribute to obesity. Household pets may alter human gut microbiome composition. We examined if pet-keeping modified the association of CS with obesity at age 2 years in 639 Wayne County Health, Environment, Allergy and Asthma Longitudinal Study birth cohort participants. Pet-keeping was defined as having a dog or cat (indoors ≥1 h/day) at child age 2 years. We used logistic regression to test for an interaction between CS and pet-keeping with obesity (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) at age 2 years, adjusted for maternal obesity. A total of 328 (51.3 %) children were male; 367 (57.4 %) were African American; 228 (35.7 %) were born by CS; and 55 (8.6 %) were obese. After adjusting for maternal obesity, CS-born children had a non-significant (P = 0.25) but elevated 1.4 (95 % CI 0.8, 2.5) higher odds of obesity compared to those born vaginally. There was evidence of effect modification between current pet-keeping and delivery mode with obesity at age 2 years (interaction P = 0.054). Compared to children born vaginally without a pet currently in the home, children born via CS without a pet currently in the home had a statistically significant (P = 0.043) higher odds (odds ratio 2.00; 95 % CI 1.02, 3.93) of being obese at age 2 years. Pets modified the CS–BMI relationship; whether the underlying mechanism is through effects on environmental or gut microbiome requires specific investigation.


Birth cohort Childhood obesity Delivery mode Companion animals 



This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (R01 AI050681, R01 HL113010 and P01 AI089473) and the Fund for Henry Ford Hospital.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea E. Cassidy-Bushrow
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ganesa Wegienka
    • 1
    • 2
  • Suzanne Havstad
    • 1
    • 2
  • Albert M. Levin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susan V. Lynch
    • 3
  • Dennis R. Ownby
    • 2
    • 4
  • Andrew G. Rundle
    • 5
  • Kimberley J. Woodcroft
    • 1
    • 2
  • Edward M. Zoratti
    • 2
    • 6
  • Christine Cole Johnson
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Public Health SciencesHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology ResearchHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.Division of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Department of PediatricsGeorgia Regents UniversityAugustaUSA
  5. 5.Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public HealthColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  6. 6.Division of Allergy and Clinical ImmunologyHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA

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