A new study published in the International Journal of Obesity is blaming childhood obesity on childhood use of antibiotics, comparing the incidents of weight gain in such children with others who had not been excessively exposed to antibiotics as children.
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The research involved 160,000 children in Pennsylvania, and the authors of the study found that teenagers 15 years and above who got treated with antibiotics for more than seven times during their childhood weighed 3 pounds more than teenagers who were not given antibiotic treatments as children.
The study adds to the body of knowledge that antibiotic use could be linked to weight gain, both in humans and in livestock.
"Antibiotics at any age contribute to weight gain," explained study lead author Brian S. Schwartz at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the Wall Street Journal.
The authors further pointed out that excessive use of antibiotics is not healthy because it kills off bacteria that may be beneficial to the body in certain instances, while altering the levels of microbiome in the human body.
There have been cases where children treated with antibiotics gain and lose the weight within a year, but where such antibiotics are administered persistently, then the weight gain might add up and become permanent as the years go by.
Some other studies in Denmark show that when pregnant women persist in taking antibiotics, its effects of weight gain can start to show in the child long before its birth, and it can persist in making the child overweight or obese as he or she grows into youthfulness.
The researchers stressed there are times when the use of antibiotics is appropriate, but parents should not demand for them at the slightest feelings of discomforts.
"We've got to totally dissuade parents from advocating for antibiotics," Schwartz said. "As parents we want to feel like we're doing something active for our kids, but I think we're doing our kids damage. If your doctor says you don't need them, don't take them."