Mode of Birth and DNA Methylation at Birth, in Childhood, and in Adolescence: Uncovering the Relationship Using ALSPAC Data

Isabel Jaramillo*, Luisa Bergunde, Cyrielle Holuka, Carlo Schuengel, Jasminka Štefulj, Susann Steudte-Schmiedgen, Maria Kaź mierczak, Giorgia Menta, Conchita D’Ambrosio, Joan G. Lalor, Jonathan D. Turner, Susan Garthus-Niegel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Mode of birth has been linked to offspring health. Changes in DNA methylation (DNAm) may represent a potential mechanism; however, findings are heterogeneous and limited to early infancy. This preregistered study examined whether mode of birth (vaginal birth compared with elective or emergency cesarean section) affects DNAm at birth, in childhood, and adolescence and whether these effects are modified by the postnatal care environment, specifically by breastfeeding and mother–infant bonding. Using data from 876 mother– infant dyads from the U.K. Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, we examined differentially methylated cytosine-phosphate-guanine dinucleotides and regions associated with mode of birth. DNAm was quantified using Illumina Infinium Human Methylation 450 K BeadChip in cord blood (at birth) and in peripheral blood (at 7 and 15–17 years). Analyses controlled for maternal age, education, smoking during pregnancy, child sex, gestational week at birth, and batch effects. We also examined interactions of mode of birth with breastfeeding practices and mother–infant bonding. In cord blood, two cytosine-phosphate-guanine dinucleotides (cg05230316; cg13230077) were linked to mode of birth (pFDR,.050). DNAm in childhood or adolescence was not statistically associated with mode of birth (pFDR..050), and breastfeeding and mother–infant bonding were not moderators (p..050). Overall, findings suggest mode of birth may have a small effect on cord blood DNAm, but these effects may not persist into later developmental stages. Other postnatal influences should be considered, and further investigation is needed to address study limitations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Early online date25 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024


  • Accessible Resource for Integrated Epigenomic Studies
  • breastfeeding
  • epigenome-wide association studies (EWAS)
  • labor
  • mother–infant bonding


Dive into the research topics of 'Mode of Birth and DNA Methylation at Birth, in Childhood, and in Adolescence: Uncovering the Relationship Using ALSPAC Data'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this