Risks of Treating Children With Antibiotics
Written by Faith Anderson on August 21, 2012
Antibiotics May Destroy Healthy Bacteria
“We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it’s more complicated,” said Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, and co-author of the study. “Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean.” Researchers involved in the study observed the use of antibiotics in 11,532 children born in Britain’s Avon region in from 1991 to 1992, who are participating in an ongoing study concerning their health and development.
Early Antibiotic Use in Children Linked to Weight Gain
Researchers found that children treated with antibiotics in the first five months of their lives weighed more for their height than those who were not exposed to antibiotic drugs. The difference was small between the ages of 10 and 20 months, but by 38 months of age, children treated with antibiotics had a 22% increased risk of being overweight. Timing appeared to be an important factor in the research; children who received antibiotic treatment from the ages of six to 14 months did not have a significantly higher body mass later in childhood, the report revealed. And while children treated with antibiotics at 15 to 23 months had slightly higher body mass indices by the age of seven, there was no significant increase in their risk of being overweight or obese. “For many years now, farmers have known that antibiotics are great at producing heavier cows for market,” said co-author Jan Blustein, also of NYU. “While we need more research to confirm our findings, this carefully constructed study suggests that antibiotics influence weight gain in humans, and especially children too.”