Antibiotic exposure within the first 6 months of life was not associated with a significant difference in weight gain through age 7 compared to infants with no exposure, a new study in JAMA has found.

Animal model studies have linked antibiotic exposure early in life to increased adiposity. Studies evaluating antibiotics in infancy and childhood weight gain have reported varied results. Researchers from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study in 38,522 children and 92 twins with differences in antibiotic exposure and assessed the link between early-life exposure and weight gain in childhood.

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Jeffrey S. Gerber, MD, PhD, reported that 14% of the children in the study were exposed to antibiotics during the first 6 months of life (average 4.3 months). This antibiotic exposure was not significantly associated with rate of weight change (0.7% or 1.8oz). The 46 out of 92 twins who were exposed to antibiotics in early-life (average 4.5 months) did not exhibit significant weight difference (–3.2oz).

The study authors concluded that study findings do not support a significant association between early-life antibiotic use and childhood weight gain. “There are many reasons to limit antibiotic exposure in young, healthy children, but weight gain is likely not one of them,” noted Dr. Gerber.

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