Has there been any research comparing the cognition of people born via C-section to people born vaginally?

During a vaginal birth, the baby's head is pressured and deforms somewhat in order to make it through. Hypothetically, this could cause some minor brain damage which would be avoided by C-section birth.


1 Answer 1


I don't know if there has been any research on this, but there is reason to doubt that such research would yield any meaningful results.

You would need to control for a large number of things to address your question. For example, people born by C-section are people who have access to medical care. Those people have money, which is associated with education and opportunities, both of which are associated with IQ.

Additionally, a C-section is medical intervention for when something goes wrong. The things that lead to C-sections (such as improper positioning of the baby before birth, compromising oxygen supply) can lead to brain damage. C-sections generally are associated with many more complications than healthy vaginal births.

Another thing to consider is that vaginal birth would be a poor evolutionary solution for human reproduction if it lead to significantly lower intelligence.

I would be much less surprised if the opposite of your hypothesis turned out to be true.

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    $\begingroup$ Also note how resilient baby brains are: you can sometimes get away with having an entire hemisphere missing! The developing brain accommodates/routes around all kinds of damage. That can scramble the `normal' locations for things like language centers, but often there's little or no impact on the 'shifted' abilities, especially if the damage occurred young enough. A bit of a squeeze at literally the moment of birth is pretty small beer from the brain's perspective. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2018 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, very good point. $\endgroup$
    – PhiloT
    May 30, 2018 at 12:28

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