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Childhood Antibiotics Rx Tied to Weight Gain Through Adolescence

Study finds link between repeated use in children and slightly higher weights in teen years

FRIDAY, Oct. 23, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Repeated antibiotic use is linked to greater weight gains in children, and it could affect their weight for the rest of their lives, a new study suggests. The findings were published online Oct. 21 in the International Journal of Obesity.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore analyzed data from 163,820 children (aged 3 to 18 years) in the United States, and found that about 21 percent of them received seven or more prescriptions for antibiotics during childhood.

According to the researchers, at age 15, those who took antibiotics seven or more times at earlier ages weighed about 3 pounds more than those who took no antibiotics. This weight gain among those who frequently took antibiotics was likely underestimated due to lack of complete data, the researchers said.

“We found evidence of reversible, persistent, and progressive effects of antibiotic use on body mass index trajectories, with different effects by age, among mainly healthy children,” the authors write. “The results suggest that antibiotic use may influence weight gain throughout childhood and not just during the earliest years as has been the primary focus of most prior studies.”

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