Infants who receive antibiotics during the first six months of life don’t seem to gain excess weight by the time they reach the age of 7, a new study suggests.
Antibiotics are the most widely used prescription drugs in children, but little has been known about the long-term health effects in people. Meanwhile, animal studies have linked early exposure to antibiotics with increased body fat, the researchers said.
The study included data on nearly 40,000 children in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. About 14 percent of the children were given antibiotics in the first six months of life. The average age children received antibiotics was just over four months, the study showed.
The study also included 92 pairs of twins. One twin was given antibiotics in the first six months of life while the other didn’t get the drugs.
In both groups, there was no significant difference in weight gain by 7 years of age between children who received antibiotics early in life and those who didn’t, the study found.
The study was published in the March 22/29 Journal of the American Medical Association.
“There are many reasons to limit antibiotic exposure in young, healthy children, but weight gain is likely not one of them,” researcher Dr. Jeffrey Gerber, from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues wrote.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more about antibiotics.