Antibiotics, Acid Suppressants in Infancy May Up Obesity Risk
Antibiotics, Acid Suppressants in Infancy May Up Obesity Risk
Antibiotics may cause obesity in young children, new study finds
02 November, 2018, 04:15
The drugs may alter the composition of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, researchers said.
Alterations in gut bacteria have been linked with obesity, and early exposure to medications can alter the bacteria.
For the study, researchers from Walter Reed National Military Medical in the United States examined 333,353 infants among which almost 46,993 children became obese.
Some 46,993 (just over 14%) children became obese, of whom 9628 (11%) had not been prescribed any antibiotics or acid suppressants.
Boys, those born after a caesarean section, and those whose parents were below officer rank were more likely to become obese.
The study, led by Christopher M Stark, Apryl Susi, Jill Emerick and Cade M Nylund, reports that acid suppressants and antibiotics taken in early childhood can modify gut microbiota, especially if they are taken for prolonged periods, and may, in turn, increase the likelihood of developing obesity.
They also looked at antacids - used to curb excessive stomach acid - taken in the first two years of life and found they may have an effect, though less pronounced than other prescriptions.
The average risk factor for obesity rose by 26 per cent for antibiotic prescriptions, but by only 1 or 2 per cent with antacids.
Of the total group, 72.5 per cent were prescribed antibiotics, 12 per cent were prescribed H2RA acid suppressants and 3 per cent were prescribed PPI gastric protector medication. This is thought to be because antibiotics kill off gut bacteria more quickly.
"That said, childhood obesity levels in the United Kingdom are at crisis point with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school".
"We are also battling antibiotic resistance so any avoidable doses throughout the life-course would be beneficial to the cause".
Although the largest study of its kind, it is nevertheless observational, and as such, can't establish cause.
He added, "We have to be careful about medications which might risk obesity because people who are obese in childhood typically increase their weight in adulthood, putting them in danger of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart problems".
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