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Too Many Antibiotics Can Make Children Heavier

October 16, 2016
Plain English Version

antibioticsChildren who use a lot of antibiotics gain more weight than others. The weight they gain may stay with them into adulthood.

A study of a large number of children looked at:

  • Antibiotic prescriptions
  • Body weight
  • Height

One out of five of the children had taken antibiotics seven or more times. By age 15, they weighed an average of about 3 pounds more than the children who had no antibiotics. This eight gain is a statistically important difference.

What is the reason? Experts say that the drugs may wipe out the healthy bacteria in a child’s system. This can lead to changes in how we absorb food. It can also affect how many calories are released from foods.

There was an earlier study. It reported that the use of antibiotics during pregnancy led to babies who will become heavier over time.

Doctors say antibiotics can be important, but parents demand them too often. For example, ear infections and viruses are conditions that cannot be helped by antibiotics. Parents demand them anyway. Too often, doctors give in.

Doctors say it is time to change the practice of giving antibiotics all the time. One said, “As parents we want to feel like we are doing something active for our kids. But I think we are doing our kids damage. If your doctor says you do not need them, do not take them.”

Source: The New York Times October 21, 2015

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