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Infant Antibiotic use Tied to Weight Gain

Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:29 AM

Treating infants with antibiotics before they reach 6 months of may predispose them to being overweight in childhood, according to a new study by researchers at New York University.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Obesity, are based on analysis of more than 10,000 children. The NYU research team found that, on average, children exposed to antibiotics from birth to 5 months of age weighed more for their height than children who weren't exposed. By 3 years of age, exposed children had a 22 percent greater likelihood of being overweight.
"We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it's more complicated," said lead researcher Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an NYU associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine.
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He noted that the study did not explain why the link exists, adding that the study does not prove that antibiotics in early life cause young children to be overweight. But he added: "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."
Recent studies have raised concerns about the overuse of antibiotics, especially in children. Research has suggested altering the composition of bacteria in the body may be involved in certain health conditions.
But the NYU research is the first to link the use of antibiotics and body mass starting in infancy. The study evaluated the early use of antibiotics among 11,532 children born in Avon, United Kingdom, during 1991 and 1992.
Antibiotic use only appeared to have an effect in very young infants, but children who took the drugs at 15 to 23 months had somewhat greater BMI (Body Mass Indices) for their age and gender. By the age of 7, there was no significant increase in their being overweight or obese.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.
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Treating infants with antibiotics may predispose them to being overweight in childhood.
Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:29 AM
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