Early childhood obesity linked to antibiotics

Antibiotics commonly given to children under two years old to treat a wide range of infections may be linked to a higher risk of early childhood obesity, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Researchers at Children's Hospital in Phildelphia analyzed electronic health records from a network of primary care clinics, spanning from 2001-2013. They looked at data from 64,580 children who had annual clinic visits at 0 to23 months, as well as one or more visits at 24 to 58 months. They also followed the children up until the age of five. Researchers found 69 percent of the children had received antibiotics before 24 months, with an average of 2.3 antibiotic episodes per child.

They also determined that there appeared to be a higher risk of childhood obesity among those who were exposed to antibiotics, specifically children who had been given antibiotics on four or more separate occasions. By four years old, 15 percent of the children were obese and 33 percent were overweight. The correlations held true only with antibiotics used to treat a wide range of bacteria.

The researchers concluded that antibiotic treatment in young children should be limited and that the results provide "additional support for the adoption of treatment guidelines for common pediatric conditions."

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Sourced from: Medical News Today, Early childhood obesity associated with antibiotic exposure