Dosing your kids with antibiotics, early and often, linked to childhood obesity

Children exposed repeatedly to antibiotics in their first 2 years of life were more likely to be obese later in childhood…

Children with four or more courses of antibiotics were 11% more likely than others to become obese, according to Charles Bailey, MD, PhD, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues.

But the effect was restricted to broad-spectrum drugs, suggesting that narrower antibiotic selection might modify the risk, Bailey and colleagues reported online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Because obesity is multifactorial, the authors argued, cutting its prevalence means “identifying and managing multiple risk factors whose individual effects may be small but modifiable.”

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine identified several such factors, including the mother’s pre-pregnancy body mass index, physical activity, and sleep duration. But one “emerging factor,” Bailey and colleagues noted, was the role played by microbial populations in the intestine, which can be affected by antibiotics…

They looked at recorded antibiotic prescriptions in the first 2 years of life and used Cox proportional hazards models to look for associations with obesity in the following 3 years…

Some 69% of the children in the cohort had at least one exposure to antibiotics before 24 months, with an average of 2.3 episodes per child, the investigators found…

Children who were given antibiotics were similar at the time of exposure in terms of weight-for-length to children who did not get the drugs.

But cumulative exposure to antibiotics was associated with later obesity…The effect was greater for broad-spectrum antibiotics…

Getting broad-spectrum drugs early was also associated with obesity, Bailey and colleagues found.

I don’t care what the rationale may be. Whether parents unreasonably demand antibiotics – and doctors cave in. Just like “social promotion” in some school systems for children with failing grades. Or whether your family GP is getting spiffs from some pharmaceutical corporation detailer.

The appropriate response to studies like this is to halt overmedication. Further studies are always needed to confirm or counter; but, meanwhile, let’s try to err on the side of healthier kids, eh?

2 thoughts on “Dosing your kids with antibiotics, early and often, linked to childhood obesity

  1. Homer says:

    “You likely know that being overweight increases your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But did you know it also increases your risk for cancer?” “…as many as 84,000 cancer diagnoses each year are linked to obesity, according to the National Cancer Institute. Excess fat also affects how cancer treatments work and may increase a cancer patient’s risk of death, either from cancer or from other related causes.” See also

  2. .aspx says:

    A new study led by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine finds that the brains of obese children literally light up differently when tasting sugar.
    Published online in International Journal of Obesity, the study does not show a causal relationship between sugar hypersensitivity and overeating but it does support the idea that the growing number of America’s obese youth may have a heightened psychological reward response to food.
    This elevated sense of “food reward” – which involves being motivated by food and deriving a good feeling from it – could mean some children have brain circuitries that predispose them to crave more sugar throughout life.
    According to studies, children who are obese have an 80 to 90 percent chance of growing up to become obese adults. Currently about one in three children in the U.S. is overweight or obese. (12/12/14)

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