Aside from the growing worldwide concern about antibiotic resistance, taking antibiotics is linked to a number of health concerns. In a new study, researchers have linked antibiotic use by children under the age of two to a greater risk of obesity.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, collected and analyzed data from nearly 65,000 children between 2001 and 2013. The researchers noted that 70 percent of the children received antibiotics before the age of two. Analysis results showed that children who had received four or more courses of antibiotics before they turned two had an 11 percent higher risk of becoming obese by approximately age five.
The researchers also found that it was broad-spectrum antibiotics that were linked to obesity, not narrow-spectrum varieties.
The study authors wrote: “Repeated exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics at ages 0 to 23 months is associated with early childhood obesity. Because common childhood infections were the most frequent diagnoses co-occurring with broad-spectrum antibiotic prescription, narrowing antibiotic selection is potentially a modifiable risk factor for childhood obesity.”
Dr. Charles Bailey, the lead author of the study, cautions that this study does not prove that the antibiotics caused the obesity. He does add, however, that as antibiotics destroy some gut bacteria, the body could be left “in a state where it is more likely to become obese.”
As we recently reported, early antibiotic use has also been linked to changes in gut bacteria which may increase the risk of metabolic issues later in life. Young children exposed to antibiotics have also been linked to a higher risk of developing asthma, as well as eczema.
Considering these studies, it is imperative that antibiotics be used with caution, and only when they are clearly needed. These medications should not be used as a “just in case” measure unless it is specifically recommended by a doctor for a pertinent reason – the future risks are too great to be taken lightly.
-The Alternative Daily