Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Antibiotics During Infancy May Up Childhood Obesity Risk

Antibiotics During Infancy May Up Childhood Obesity Risk

THURSDAY, Nov. 1, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Babies who are prescribed antibiotics before they're 2 years old may be more likely to become obese children, new research suggests.

Acid reflux medications may also up the risk, though that connection was not as strong.

The findings come from the tracking of infant medication histories and childhood obesity incidence among hundreds of thousands of children up until age 8. All had received care through the U.S. military health care system.

As to why a link was seen, investigators theorized it could have to do with the impact such medications have on the delicate microbial environment (microbiome) found in a growing child's gut.

"We did not evaluate the microbiome status of these children," stressed study author Dr. Cade Nylund, a lieutenant colonel with Medical Corps of the U.S. Air Force. "And this was an observational study, so we can only demonstrate the findings of an association, not a specific cause.

"So we presume this has to do with changes in a child's microbiome brought on by these medications," he added. "But it could also just be the result of having an infection. Or having a fever, maybe with or without taking antibiotics. Or it might have something to do with the psychosocial dynamics of a family. We don't yet know."

As to what parents should make of these findings, Nylund said the most important thing is to ensure that children take the medications they need, but not when it isn't warranted.

For example, Nylund noted that acid reflux medications -- such as histamine blockers and proton pump inhibitors -- "are often prescribed in infants when they're not indicated. Acid reflux is normal in infants, and not really a good reason to put them on reflux meds. And most infants grow out of the problem by 12 months."

On the other hand, Nylund acknowledged that "antibiotics play a big role in treating infections, and they always will.

"And I would certainly hate for a parent to not treat a child with antibiotics for an infection out of a concern for obesity," he added.

In the study, published Nov. 1 in the journal Gut, researchers followed roughly 333,000 children born between 2006 and 2013.

More than 241,000 had been prescribed antibiotics before the age of 2. Nearly 40,000 had been prescribed histamine blockers, while more than 11,000 had been prescribed proton pump inhibitors. Almost 6,000 kids had been prescribed all three drugs.

Based on an average of four pediatrician visits after age 2 and up until age 8, investigators determined that nearly 47,000 children (14 percent) became obese. Of these, about 9,600 had never been prescribed an antibiotic or acid reflux medication while an infant; the rest had.

After stacking medication histories up against obesity incidence, the research team concluded that infants prescribed antibiotics faced a 26 percent greater risk for childhood obesity by the age of 3. That risk rose the longer an infant had taken antibiotics, and among infants who had taken medications in multiple antibiotic classes.

Acid reflux medications also appeared to raise childhood obesity risk, though the connection was characterized as "weak."

Dr. Ruchi Gupta, a senior scientist in child health research at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said the findings are interesting because they raise "questions about factors such as antibiotics and medications that alter gut microbiome and can potentially influence other health conditions." She was not involved with the study.

But Gupta cautioned that for now the findings should only be viewed as an "important association." More research will be needed "to truly understand cause and effect, as it is a complex condition influenced by many environmental, behavioral and genetic factors," she said.

More information

There's more information on obesity and obesity risk factors at U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

SOURCES: Cade Nylund, M.D., M.S., lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force, Medical Corps, and associate professor, pediatrics, Uniformed Services University, University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Md.; Ruchi Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., senior scientist, child health research, and professor, pediatrics and medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago; Nov. 1, 2018, Gut, online

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Infectious Disease
Dr. Kenji Cunnion
Dr. Randall Fisher
Dr. Laura Sass
Health Tips
A Chubby Baby Is Not a Sign of Future Obesity
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
How Old Is "Old Enough" for Contacts?
Prevention
Prevention Guidelines for Men 18 to 39
Prevention Guidelines for Women 18 to 39
Prevention Guidelines for Women 40-49
Prevention Guidelines for Women 50-64
Prevention Guidelines for Women 65+
Prevention Guidelines, Ages 2 to 18
NewsLetters
Colorectal Cancer Before Age 50: A Weighty Reason Rates Are Rising
Early Obesity Can Change Heart Structure
Love, Marriage, and Diabetes Risk
Diseases & Conditions
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Firearms
Hepatitis B (HBV) in Children
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Meningitis in Children
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Obesity in Teens
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Television and Children
Thalassemia
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.