Antibiotic use linked with childhood obesity

Exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics at a young age is associated to increased risk of childhood obesity, research suggests

Childhood obesity is a significant public health issue and research suggests the intestinal microbiome may influence body weight. This hypothesis is strengthened by a study in JAMA Pediatrics (online, 29 September 2014), in which L Charles Bailey, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and co-authors analysed electronic health records of 64,580 children in the United States[1]

Nearly 70% of children received antibiotics before they were two years old and one third were obese by the age of four. Exposure to four or more courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics was associated with an 11% increased risk of childhood obesity versus no exposure. No such association was seen for narrow-spectrum antibiotics.

“Narrowing antibiotic selection is potentially a modifiable risk factor for childhood obesity,” the researchers conclude.



[1] Bailey LC et al. Association of Antibiotics in Infancy With Early Childhood Obesity. JAMA Pediatr 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.1539 (accessed 29 September 2014).

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 11 October 2014, Vol 293, No 7831;293(7831):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20066716

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