Early Antibiotic Use May Be Tied to Higher Childhood Body Weight

Antibiotics before age 2 associated with very small increase in body weight at 5 years of age.
Antibiotics before age 2 associated with very small increase in body weight at 5 years of age.

HealthDay News — Antibiotic use in children <24 months of age is associated with a slightly higher body weight at 5 years of age, according to a study published recently in Pediatrics.

Jason P. Block, MD, MPH, from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Boston, and colleagues used data from the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network (2009 to 2016 from 35 institutions) to assess the association of any antibiotic use at <24 months of age with body mass index (BMI) z score and overweight or obesity prevalence at 48 months to <72 months (5 years) of age. Children's same-day height and weight measurements were taken at 0 to <12, 12 to <30, and 48 to <72 months. 

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The researchers identified 362,550 eligible children (52% boys, 27% African-American, 18% Hispanic), of whom 58% received at least 1 antibiotic prescription at <24 months of age. At 5 years of age, 28% of children had overweight or obesity. In adjusted models for children without a complex chronic condition at 5 years, there was an association between antibiotics at <24 months and a higher mean BMI z score (by 0.04 points) as well as higher odds of overweight or obesity (odds ratio, 1.05).

"While this small difference in weight might not be important for individual decisions regarding antibiotic prescribing by doctors and parents, these data may serve, in a small way, to further encourage efforts to decrease antibiotic use," Block said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.

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