Background: Mode of delivery may affect the risk of asthma but the findings have not been consistent and factors shared by siblings may confound the associations in previous studies.
Methods: The association between mode of delivery and dispensed inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) (a marker of asthma) was examined in a register based national cohort (n=199 837). A cohort analysis of all first born children aged 2-5 and 6-9 years was performed. An age-matched sibling-pair analysis was also performed to account for shared genetic and environmental risk factors.
Results: Analyses of first-borns demonstrated that elective caesarean section was associated with an increased risk of dispensed ICS in both 2-5 (adjusted odds ratio (aOR)=1.19, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.09-1.29) and 6-9 (aOR=1.21, 1.09-1.34) age groups. In the sibling-pair analysis, the increased risk associated with elective caesarean section was confirmed in 2-5 year olds (aOR=1.22, 1.05-1.43) but not in 6-9 year olds (aOR=1.06, 0.78-1.44). Emergency caesarean section and vacuum extraction had some association with dispensed ICS in the analyses of first-borns but these associations were not confirmed in the sibling-pair analyses.
Conclusions: Confounding by familial factors affects the association between mode of delivery and dispensed ICS. Despite this confounding, there was some evidence that elective caesarean section contributed to a modestly increased risk of dispensed ICS but only up to five years of age.
Keywords: Asthma; Caesarean section; Child; Epidemiology; Inhaled corticosteroids; Sib pair analysis.