US-based researchers have said that the young children who are repeatedly fed with courses of antibiotics are at greater risk of becoming obese than those who use fewer drugs.
According to the researchers, the children who had consumed four or more courses of antibiotics when they were aged two were found to be at a 10 percent higher risk of being obese.
The scientists, however, clarified that the study didn’t show any direct link between antibiotics and obesity and whether the former causes weight problem. They also expressed need for several in-depth studies to explain the reasons behind the association between the two.
“It would be a matter of big concern if parents took from this that they ought to be reluctant to allow antibiotic use in their children,” said Dr Graham Brudge, of University of Southampton. The researchers, however, didn’t ask the parents to discontinue or stop giving antibiotics to their children.
For the study, the scientists from the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Pennsylvania gathered the health records of more than 64,500 children in the US between the period 2001 and 2013 and reviewed them thoroughly. The researchers followed the participating children until they reached five years of age.
It was found that almost 70 percent of the kids had been prescribed two antibiotic courses when they were 24-month- old. However, those who had four or more courses of antibiotics in the same period were at a 10 percent higher risk of getting obese when they were five-year-old compared to those who had been given fewer courses of drugs.
Scientists also said that the intensity of obesity also largely depended on the type of antibiotics they were prescribed. The study showed that those children who were given drugs targeted at a particular bug were at lower risk of putting on weight. In contrast, those children who took a broad-spectrum antibiotic that have the potential to kill several types of bacteria indiscriminately were found more likely to gain a higher body mass.
The study findings were published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.