Young children who take antibiotics may disrupt their gut microbes and be more likely to develop adolescent prediabetes. Findings from the study were presented at ENDO 2016.

The study’s lead investigator and author Charikleia Stefanaki, MD, MSc, reported that increased antibiotic consumption up to age 3 appears to reduce beneficial gut microbes and modify nutrient absorption and metabolism, adding that “This may lead to prediabetes, an early high-risk stage of type 2 diabetes mellitus.” 

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Dr. Stefanaki and colleagues examined the differences in intestinal ecosystem in male and female adolescents aged 12–17 years old to better determine the relationship between the gut microbiome and prediabetes. They analyzed fecal samples of 10 prediabetic adolescents and 14 healthy controls. Study patients with prediabetes reported taking antibiotics >3 times a year by age 3. These patients also had fewer Colony Forming Units (CFUs) of Ruminococcusspecies per gram of stool. Ruminococcus species supports the gut’s beneficial bacteria and its depletion can cause negative changes in the gut flora, which may lead to adolescent prediabetes.

In contrast, the healthy controls were 8.5 times less likely to have taken antibiotics by age 3 and 1.75 times less likely to have a positive family history of autoimmune diseases. 

Study authors suggest that prebiotics and probiotics may help restore proper balance in the gut bacteria and help prevent prediabetes and ultimately its progression to diabetes. 

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