Infants Exposed to Antibiotics More Likely to Be Obese in Childhood

May 19, 2020
Gretchen Cuda Kroen

Babies under 12 months of age exposed to antibiotics are at higher risk for developing childhood obesity according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Babies under 12 months of age exposed to antibiotics are at higher risk for developing childhood obesity according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Antibiotics can disrupt the development of infant gut microbiota which supports digestion, nutrient absorption and immune function.  In the absence healthy gut microbiota, metabolism can be altered linking the antibiotics to later adiposity, say the study’s authors. Evidence has been provided that disturbances in gut microbiota lead to obesity in mice, there is little evidence of this link in humans.

The data from the study was based on interviewer-administered questionnaires with parents, body composition measurements, and laboratory analysis of stool samples in children from the GUSTO mother-offspring cohort study.

“The infancy period (1st year) represents part of a critical window of development which can have a lasting effect on subsequent health and disease later in life," explained Prof Lee Yung Seng, Head of Pediatrics at the National University of Singapore (NUS). 

Ling-Wei Chen et al. Implication of gut microbiota in the association between infant antibiotic exposure and childhood obesity and adiposity accumulation, International Journal of Obesity (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41366-020-0572-0

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