Antibiotics May Weaken Protective Effects of Breastfeeding

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Infants who received antibiotics were more prone to infections and obesity in childhood
Infants who received antibiotics were more prone to infections and obesity in childhood

HealthDay News — Early use of antibiotics may weaken some of the benefits of breastfeeding, according to a study published online June 13 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Katri Korpela, PhD, from the immunobiology research program at the University of Helsinki, and colleagues collected data on 226 Finnish children who had taken part in a probiotic trial from 2009 to 2010. The children's mothers answered questions about breastfeeding, and antibiotic use was identified from purchase records.

Ninety-seven percent of the infants were breastfed for at least a month, and the overall average breastfeeding period was eight months. The researchers found that among the 113 babies who weren't given antibiotics before weaning, breastfeeding was linked to fewer infections after weaning and lower weights as children. In fact, for each month of breastfeeding, the use of antibiotics was cut by 5%. Among the 113 infants given antibiotics during breastfeeding and within 4 months after weaning, there were more infections and the children were more likely to be overweight.

"The protective effect of breastfeeding against high body mass index in later childhood was evident only in the children with no antibiotic use during the breastfeeding period," the authors write. "The results suggest that the metabolic benefits of breastfeeding are largely conveyed by the intestinal microbiota, which is disturbed by antibiotic treatment."

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