Antacids, antibiotics may up obesity risk in childhood

Taking the drugs may alter gut bacteria in young children. Stock Image

Taking the drugs may alter gut bacteria in young children. Stock Image

Some 46,993 (just over 14%) children became obese, of whom 9628 (11%) had not been prescribed any antibiotics or acid suppressants.

A prescription for antibiotics was associated with a 26 per cent heightened risk of obesity, according to the findings published online by the journal Gut.

Researchers say that the drugs, particularly if taken for lengthy periods, may alter gut microbes associated with weight gain. This association persisted, irrespective of antibiotic type, and strengthened with each additional class of antibiotic prescribed.

Dr Cade Nylund from the University of the Health Sciences in Maryland, senior author of the study, said: 'There are too many unnecessary antibiotics being prescribed to infants who may not need them, for things like common colds. "In the meantime, children who are obese must receive tailored support to help them return to a healthy weight - we therefore call on the Government to ensure specialist obesity services are appropriately funded to prevent obese children today becoming obese adults in future".

Antibiotics have always been linked to obesity and farmers give them to cattle with the express goal of bulking them up.

The study, on 30,000 children found that those prescribed antibiotics during their first two years of life had a 26 per cent higher risk of obesity. Antacid drugs also affected the microbiome's make-up and were linked to a heightened risk of obesity.

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Antibiotics and acid suppressant medications can alter the type and number of bacteria present in the gut.

Boys, those born after a caesarean section, and those whose parents were below officer rank were more likely to become obese.

In all, 241, 502 (72.5%) had been prescribed an antibiotic; 39,488 (just under 12%) an H2RA; and 11,089 (just over 3%) a PPI during this period. As such, it is very important that more research is conducted in this area'.

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

He added: 'That said, childhood obesity levels in the United Kingdom are at crisis point with one in three children overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school'.

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