childhood obesity

Pediatric researchers have investigated if there is a relationship between antibiotic exposure in children and weight gain later in life.

The researchers, from Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare (HPHC), worked in collaboration with scientists from across the country to carry out an observational study on the health records of 1.6 million children.

Over recent decades, Dr Eneli, the lead author of the study, said, the use of antibiotic prescription by pediatric doctors to young patients has risen.

This parallels the explosive rise in obesity across the entire population, including in children.

The research investigated whether there could be a correlation between these two surges, although admittedly, there seems to be a decline in trends of antibiotic prescribing, due to the worries over the rising antibiotic resistance crisis.

It is predicted that 51 per cent of the population will be obese by 2030, a staggering statistic, which brings with it the real life consequences of cardiovascular conditions, metabolic syndromes like type 2 diabetes, and overall a lower life expectancy. Any insight into how the rise in weight can be impeded could be key to preventing this future from occurring.

The study looked at how many times children were prescribed antibiotics during their first two years of life, and then tracked them to ages five and 10 in order to analyses how many of them had become obese, which for the purposes of the study was defined as being heavier than 95 per cent of children of the same age and sex.

An imbalance in the life of the microbiology in the gut could be to explain why antibiotics could increase the risk of obesity later in life, especially if taken when the patient is very young. Research that has been published in the last five years has found that this imbalance is a plausible cause of increased obesity risk.

The first findings have indicated that certain types of antibiotics could be less likely to influence weight gain in life compared to others, and the researchers will be further investigating whether any antibiotics taken by a mother while pregnant could raise the chances of childhood obesity.

Although the relationship between antibiotics and obesity is clouded and unsure, we know two things for certain. One, that antibiotics are crucial in medical care and have helped save countless people from infections over the years, and two, that a careful diet, avoiding processed foods and high amounts of refined sugars can significantly improve health and reduce the risks of becoming obese.