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Does Antibiotic Use Early in Life Increase Obesity Risk?

October 31, 2018

Use of antibiotics and other medications that can alter microbiota during the first few years of life is associated with an increased risk for obesity, according to the results of a recent study.

Previous research has shown that gut microbiota alterations are associated with obesity. In order to determine whether use of antibiotics, histamine-2 receptor antagonist (H2RA), and proton pump inhibitors (PPI) during the first 2 years of life could increase the risk of obesity, researchers performed a cohort study of US military beneficiaries born from October 2006 to September 2013.

Overall, 333,353 children were included in the study, with 241,502 having been prescribed an antibiotic, 39,488 an H2RA, and 11,089 a PPI. The researchers observed an association between antibiotic prescription and obesity (hazard ratio 1.26), which persisted despite antibiotic class and was strengthened with each additional class prescribed. Further, H2RA and PPI prescriptions also were associated with obesity, with each 30-day supply strengthening the association.

“Antibiotics, acid suppressants and the combination of multiple medications in the first 2 years of life are associated with a diagnosis of childhood obesity. Microbiota-altering medications administered in early childhood may influence weight gain.”

—Michael Potts

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