HealthDay News — Antibiotic exposure is associated with increased odds of obesity among young children, according to a study published in the July issue of Gastroenterology.

Frank I. Scott, MD, from the University of Colorado Denver in Aurora, and colleagues performed a retrospective cohort study involving 21,714 children in the Health Improvement Network. Eligible subjects were registered within three months of birth; height and weight were recorded within 12 months of their 4th birthday.

The researchers found that 6.4% of the children were obese at age 4 years. The risk of obesity at age 4 was increased with antibiotic exposure (odds ratio, 1.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07 to 1.38). There was an increase in odds ratios with repeated exposures (odds ratios for one to two, three to five, and six or more prescriptions: 1.07 (95% CI, 0.91 to 1.23), 1.41 (95% CI, 1.20 to 1.65), and 1.47 (95% CI, 1.19 to 1.82)). There was no correlation for antifungal agents with obesity (odds ratio, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.59 to 1.11).

“Administration of three or more courses of antibiotics before children reach an age of 2 years is associated with an increased risk of early childhood obesity,” the authors write.

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