WEDNESDAY, Oct. 31, 2018 (HealthDay News) - Prescription of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications in early childhood is associated with an increased risk for obesity, according to a study published online Oct. 30 in Gut.
In all, 72.5 per cent had been prescribed an antibiotic; just under 12 per cent an H2RA; and just over three per cent a PPI during that period. a total of 5,868 children were prescribed all three types of drug.
Being prescribed antibiotics during early childhood increases obesity risk by 26 per cent, irrespective of the type of antibiotic.
The study, the largest of its kind, looked at medication prescribed to 333,353 infants in the U.S. military health system between 2006 and 2013. There was an association between antibiotic prescriptions and obesity (hazard ratio, 1.26).
Antibiotics have always been linked to obesity and farmers give them to cattle with the express objective of bulking them up.
Acid suppressants were also associated with a heightened obesity risk, although to much a lesser extent. This is thought to be because antibiotics kill off gut bacteria more quickly.
Boys, those born after a Caesarean section, and those whose parents were below officer rank were more likely to become obese.
And the researchers emphasise that the links between the individual, the environment, and obesity are complex, highlighting the "current difficulty of drawing clear conclusions about the interplay between exposure history, gut microbiota and propensity to develop obesity".
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard of the Royal College of Global Positioning System said it was "extremely interesting" but did not categorically prove that antibiotics caused obesity.
'It is very important that more research is conducted in this area, ' she said.
Dr Max Davie of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said the United States research did not take into account other causes of child obesity such as their home environment or mother's weight.
Dr Max Davie, officer at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Childhood obesity levels in the United Kingdom are at crisis point with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school".