(HealthDay News) — In low and middle income countries, antibiotics have a growth promoting effect in prepubertal children, according to research published online April 15 in BMJ.

Ethan K. Gough PhD, from McGill University in Montreal, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to identify randomized controlled trials conducted in low or middle income countries in which an orally administered antibacterial agent was distributed by randomization or minimization and growth was measured as an outcome.

The researchers found that, based on data from 10 trials (4,316 children), antibiotic use increased height by 0.04cm/month and weight by 23.8g/month in random effects models. The effects on height were larger in younger populations and the effects on weight were larger in African studies compared with other regions, when adjusting for age.

“Better definition of the mechanisms underlying this effect will be important to inform optimal and safe approaches to achieving healthy growth in vulnerable populations,” the authors write.

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