Baby antibiotics linked to obesity

New research published in the International Journal of Obesity has found that giving antibiotics to young babies is linked with obesity in childhood.

by Louise-Anne Geddes, Mindful Mum, 22nd August 2012

The study, which involved 11,532 children in the Bristol area, found that babies who are given antibiotics before six months are almost a quarter more likely to be overweight by the time they are three.


Exposure to antibiotics was measured at three different stages: less than 6 months, 6–14 months and 15–23 months). Body mass was measured at five different stages: 6 weeks, 10 months, 20 months, 38 months and 7 years.


It was found that antibiotic exposure at less than six months was consistently associated with increased body mass.  There was no association between the two from 6 to 14 months, but exposure from 15 to 23 months was significantly associated with increased BMI at 7 years. Non-antibiotic medications were not linked with body mass.


The researchers, led by Dr Leonardo Trasande, a paediatrician at the New York University School of medicine, concluded:

‘Exposure to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life is associated with consistent increases in body mass from 10 to 38 months. Exposures later in infancy (6–14 months, 15–23 months) are not consistently associated with increased body mass. Although effects of early exposures are modest at the individual level, they could have substantial consequences for population health. Given the prevalence of antibiotic exposures in infants, and in light of the growing concerns about childhood obesity, further studies are needed to isolate effects and define life-course implications for body mass and cardiovascular risks.’

Source:  The International Journal of Obesity, Infant antibiotic exposures and early-life body mass, 22 August 2012

Photography: papartuzi @flickr

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