“Antibiotics Too Soon May Set Babies Up For Obesity:  Study,” Dr. Shari Barnett, ABC Medical News, August 21,2012.


New research suggests that giving babies antibiotics too soon in life may contribute to obesity.  The study published in the International Journal of Obesity reflected research in the United Kingdom with a group of over 11,500 babies.  Researchers checked the height, weight and antibiotic use of babies at birth, 7 weeks, 10 months, 20 months, 38 months and 7 years.  Even though researchers took into consideration factors such as whether the mother smoked while pregnant, what the baby ate, socioeconomic factors, and the weight of the baby’s parents, a relationship between antibiotic use and weight gain was clear.  Specifically, the use of antibiotics between birth and 6 months was a factor.


The importance of this study is that it shifts our thinking about obesity from primarily a “diet and exercise” approach to include “environmental exposures.”  In an ABC news story, Dr. Richard Decklebaum, professor of nutrition, pediatrics and epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center states “I think that generally antibiotics are quick, frequently overused by practitioners to treat viral infection.”  He thinks practitioners need to be aware and not overprescribe antibiotics.  Other factors which research shows may contribute to obesity in childhood include working mothers and C-section deliveries.  We will look at the research on these topics soon.


The new study recommends checking with your doctor to verify that baby’s health condition requires antibiotics for treatment.  Physicians and the media are quick to point out that this study does not mean that antibiotics should be avoided when needed.  It is very important to give the baby antibiotics if a medical condition exists.  Keep in mind the importance of diet and exercise factors as well.  For parenting tips on  prevention of obesity in young children, read our posts:


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