New York City (August 21, 2012) Treating very young infants with antibiotics may predispose them to being overweight in childhood, according to a study of more than 10,000 children by researchers at the NYU School of Medicine and the NYU Wagner School of Public Service and published in the online August 21, 2012, issue of the International Journal of Obesity.
The study found that on average, children exposed to antibiotics from birth to 5 months of age weighed more for their height than children who weren't exposed. Between the ages of 10 to 20 months, this translated into small increases in body mass percentile, based on models that incorporated the potential impacts of diet, physical activity, and parental obesity. By 38 months of age, exposed children had a 22% greater likelihood of being overweight. However, the timing of exposure mattered: children exposed from 6 months to 14 months did not have significantly higher body mass than children who did not receive antibiotics in that same time period.
The NYU School of Medicine researchers, led by Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine, and Jan Blustein, MD, PhD, professor of population health and medicine, caution that the study does not prove that antibiotics in early life causes young children to be overweight. It only shows that a correlation exists. Further studies will need to be conducted to explore the issue of a direct causal link.
"We typically consider obesity an epidemic grounded in unhealthy diet and exercise, yet increasingly studies suggest it's more complicated," said Dr. Trasande. "Microbes in our intestines may play critical roles in how we absorb calories, and exposure to antibiotics, especially early in life, may kill off healthy bacteria that influence how we absorb nutrients into our bodies, and would otherwise keep us lean."
In recent years there has been a growing concern about the overu
|Contact: lorinda klein|
NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine