Are Antibiotics Making Children Overweight?

by | August 21, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Health

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There’s an unexpected new trigger to what may be making your child overweight. This time, it’s not too much TV, too much junk food, or even genetics. The answer: antibiotics. According to ABC News, new research from the U.K. has shown that giving your baby antibiotics too early may increase their chances of becoming overweight in childhood.

Specifically, infants who were exposed to antibiotics during their first six months are 22 percent more likely to become overweight during their toddler years. However, the International Journal of Obesity published in their study that the kids’ weights were more likely to return to normal by the time they reached seven years old. Researchers hypothesize the weight gain may be caused by the antibiotics disrupting the balance of bacteria in the child’s digestive tract.

Dr. Leonardo Trasande, primary study author and professor in pediatrics at New York University, said that the needless antibiotic use can disrupt microbes and bacteria in the infant’s gut. This can later cause over-absorption of calories, causing the toddler to eventually gain excess weight.

Dr. Trasande conducted his study in the United Kingdom, using a sample of 11,532 children. Every child in the sample had their height, weight and antibiotic use checked at birth. These measurements were also checked at seven weeks, 10 months, 20 months, 38 months, and seven years.

Researchers also looked at characteristics of each child’s mother such as weight, socioeconomic status, and whether or not she smoked. Despite these factors, the relationship between the antibiotic use and weight gain remained.

Doctors insist that this study does not mean antibiotics should never be used in infants, as serious cases certainly warrant their use. But instead, physicians should be cautious when prescribing medicines for a quick fix to a commonplace viral infection.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.