Childhood obesity linked to antibiotic use

Recently, more and more data have begun to accumulate about the various side effects of antibiotic therapy.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics has shown that the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in children under the age of 2 is associated with an increased risk of developing obesity in early childhood.

Currently, 1 in 3 children and adolescents in the United States is overweight or obese. At the age of 24 months, 10% of children are obese.

There is a whole list of risk factors that significantly increase the likelihood of developing early childhood obesity, for example a high body mass index of the mother before the start of pregnancy.

The authors of the new study believe that they have discovered a new risk factor – the suppression of the growth of specific colonies of bacteria in the intestine.

From the moment the child is born, colonization of the intestines with different types of bacteria begins. Data from recent research have already shown that different gut bacteria, the first to colonize the gut, have the ability to affect their host’s organism differently.

Some studies have also shown that the action of antibiotics can affect the diversity and composition of the flora inhabiting the gut.

Therefore, the authors of the new study conducted in the USA set themselves the task of investigating what influence the early administration of antibiotics can have on physical development indicators.

The authors of this study examined the electronic medical records of several primary care clinics from 2001 to 2013. Overall, the study included 64,580 children who had multiple visits to their pediatrician between the ages of 0 and 23. months, and then those who visited a pediatrician one or more times between the ages of 24 and 58 months.

Within the scope of the study, all medical records of each child were examined until the child reached the age of 5.

Among these children, 69% received antibiotics by age 24 months, an average of 2.3 antibiotic courses per child. The authors found that the risk of childhood obesity was higher among those children who were exposed to antibiotics before the age of 2 years, especially those who received four or more courses of antibiotics.

However, the authors reported no association between obesity and narrow-spectrum antibiotics. The increased risk they found was only associated with broad-spectrum antibiotics.

The overall prevalence of obesity among all children participating in the study was as follows:

• At the age of 2 years – 10% of children were obese and 23% were overweight;
• At the age of 3 years, 14% of children suffered from obesity and 30% were overweight;< br/> • At 4 years of age, 15% of children had metabolic syndrome, and 33% were overweight;

The authors commented on the results of their work as follows:

“Because obesity is a multifactorial condition, reducing its prevalence is directly dependent on the identification and elimination of multiple risk factors, even if their contribution is relatively small. Our results suggest that the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics in outpatients up to 24 months of age may be one of these factors. This is an additional argument in the direction of refusing antibiotics in these clinical situations, when their appointment is not so necessary.”

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