Antibiotics could lead to child obesity, study says

Recent findings published in the International Journal of Obesity had revealed that the intake of antibiotics in babies before six months of age could make them chubby children, the Agence France-Presse reported.

The experiment involved 11,532 children born in the Avon Region in Britain who were said to be participating in a long-term study on their health and development. It showed that children who used antibiotics for treatment during the first five months of their life were said to weigh more than those children who were not using antibiotics at all.

The difference in body mass was, however, small among babies of 10 to 20 months. But it appeared that children of 38 months of age who were exposed to antibiotics were more likely to be overweight by 22 percent.

Timing was seen to be a factor, the study said. Children who used antibiotics at ages six to 14 months didn’t appear to have a “significantly higher body mass later in childhood.”

Meanwhile, children who used antibiotics at 15 to 23 months appeared to have “slightly higher body mass indices by age seven.” But the study also showed that there were no signs of a significant increase in their possibility of becoming overweight or obese.

According to the AFP report, this has been considered the first study that analyzes the relationship between the use of antibiotics and body mass beginning in infancy.

This study is also a recent addition to a mounting body of research that presents and warns the public of the potential dangers of the use of antibiotics, especially for children.

Dr. Leonardo Trasande of the New York University School of Medicine, who is a co-author of the study, said: “We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it’s more complicated.”

“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,” he explained.

“While we need more research to confirm our findings, this carefully conducted study suggests that antibiotics influence weight gain in humans, and especially children too,” the co-author Jan Blustein also said in a press release.