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Antibiotic consumption and childhood obesity

A growing base of evidence suggests antibiotic use results in microbial disturbances in the gut. These disturbances in the microbiome may contribute to weight gain. In comparisons between individuals, it has been shown that those with obesity have a lower diversity of microbes in their gut. This research is supported by studies in animal models. In infancy, a baby’s microbiome is rapidly developing. It is thus suggested by some researchers that any antibiotic exposure in infancy may impede the establishment of the healthy gut microbiome and have lifelong metabolic consequences.

In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Miller and colleagues showed that the antibiotic use in infancy is indeed related to overweight and obesity in childhood. There were notable differences however by gender with boys appearing to be more affected by antibiotic use than girls.

The authors looked at multiple drugs finding that macrolides were most strongly related to increased obesity risk while narrow-spectrum drugs were not significantly associated. These researchers suggest in the fight against childhood obesity we need to examine antibiotic prescriptions and use across populations.

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