A new study suggest that frequent antibiotic use with children may lead to weight gain. The study features in the International Journal of Obesity.
The research was conducted on data retrieved from the Pennsylvania Geisinger Health System database. The data included medical records of approximately 164,000 children between the ages of 3 and 18, as well as their height, weight, BMI and the number of antibiotic prescriptions. Examining the medical records held between 2001 and 2012 revealed seven or more than seven antibiotic prescriptions had been released for one in five children over this timeframe.
Correlating this data with the children’s weight, height and BMI, the research team found that by the age of 15, these same children were approximately three pounds heavier than those who hadn’t received antibiotics.
While there are shortfalls associated with the research, the suggestion that frequent antibiotic use with children may lead to weight gain deserves further investigation. Three pounds on average aren’t much and certainly don’t spell overweight or obesity.
Moreover, the researchers underline that the study is not an attempt to dissuade parents from treating their children with the use of antibiotics. These drugs are vital for a number of infections and disease. However, abusing antibiotics reduces their efficiency and as the new study suggests, may lead to weight gain.
The correlation between antibiotic use with children and weight gain is not clear. However, as it the case with livestock and poultry for which antibiotics mixed in feed promote unhealthy growth, the same might hold true for children.
Doctor Brian Schwartz, lead author on the study and Professor with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health explained that there are many cases in which parents insist on physicians prescribing antibiotics for children, regardless of their inefficiency in the given case.
Frequent antibiotic use with children may lead to changes in the microbiome due to wiping out of healthy bacteria. As some of the bacteria is responsible for a healthy metabolic system and the way nourishment is broken down and digested, this may be one of the links between weight gain with children who are prescribed more antibiotics than necessary.
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