Antacids, antibiotics may up obesity risk in childhood

Leslie Hanson
November 2, 2018

Researchers say that the drugs, particularly if taken for lengthy periods, may alter gut microbes associated with weight gain.

Prescription of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications in early childhood is associated with an increased risk for obesity, according to a study published online October 30 in Gut.

The study looked at over 330,000 infants in the United States over the first two years of their lives and found that just over 14% of children became obese, and only 11% of those had not been prescribed antibiotics or acid suppressants.

The research, published online in the journal Gut, suggested that antibiotics increased the chance of becoming obese by 26 per cent.

The study, led by Christopher M Stark, Apryl Susi, Jill Emerick and Cade M Nylund, reports that acid suppressants and antibiotics taken in early childhood can modify gut microbiota, especially if they are taken for prolonged periods, and may, in turn, increase the likelihood of developing obesity.

The findings further revealed that antibiotics or acid suppressants was associated with a heightened risk of obesity by the age of 3 - the average age at which obesity was first identified in these children.

Boys, those born after a caesarean section, and those whose parents were below officer rank were more likely to become obese. There was an association between antibiotic prescriptions and obesity (hazard ratio, 1.26). The correlation persisted regardless of antibiotic class and was strengthened with every additional antibiotic class prescribed.

Antacids - drugs taken to curb excessive stomach acid - taken in the first two years of life may also have an effect, though much smaller, researchers from the U.S. found.

Davie did stress the study has its limitations, being observational and not taking into.

The researchers concluded that while these medications play an essential therapeutic role, it's important to weigh their short-term benefits against the long-term risks.

But the researchers also pointed out that over prescription of both antibiotics and acid suppressants, including in young children, is "a significant problem".

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