Can Antiobiotics Make My Kid Fat? A Study Reveals Link Between Antiobiotics and Childhood Obesity

A recent study from Britain discovers a link between antibiotics in children and obesity



A few days ago my editor sent this article my way, titled “Giving Babies Antibiotics Could Lead to Obesity: Study.” It highlights an apparent link between antibiotic use in infants under six months of age and obesity. According to the article, the study found that children who received antibiotics within the first five months of their life had “a 22 percent greater likelihood of being overweight.” They hypothesize that this is because the antibiotic use may disrupt the healthy bacteria in our gut that influences how we absorb nutrients. The study “adds to a growing body of research warning of the potential dangers of antibiotics, especially for children,” though it’s the first of its kind, analyzing specifically the correlation between antibiotic use and weight starting in infancy. Whether or not this is true, it raises some interesting questions.

Like, right about now you may be wondering what’s so bad about antibiotics. It depends on who you talk to. The middle-of-the-roaders would say they’re useful, but only for treating bad bacterial infections. Those militantly opposed to them would say they do more harm than good and should be avoided entirely. But why? Let’s look at how they work: You take an antibiotic, which introduces a “selective poison” into your body to destroy the bacteria that is making you sick. Unfortunately, the antibiotic often kills off the good bacteria in your system along with the bad, like the kind that helps digest food (which is why digestive distress is a common side effect of antibiotics). If we overuse antibiotics, the harmful, disease-causing bacteria has ample opportunity to evolve and become stronger, leading to the development of drug resistant strains of bacteria, or “superbugs” (ever heard of MRSA?). These hard- (or impossible-) to-treat strains of infection are life-threatening to those who contract them, which is why the Center for Disease Control and Prevention calls them “one of the world’s most pressing health problems.”

Other studies have linked antibiotic use in children to asthma, and all too common side-effects can include oral thrush, diarrhea, vomiting, and allergic reactions like rashes. For this reason, many health professionals recommend that you try to treat minor bacterial infections without drugs, and that if you do take them it is only for the precise amount of time prescribed, and that you don’t save or share old medications.

For great information on how to naturally treat a slew of common childhood maladies, check out:

Raising Healthy Kids by Michio Kushi and Aveline Kushi
Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child by Janet Zand and Robert Roundtree
Super Healthy Kids (e-Book) from Healthy Child

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About This Blog

Shannon Gallagher

Shannon Gallagher
Rhinebeck, NY


Dutchess County native Shannon Gallagher is a contributing editor for Hudson Valley Magazine. An erstwhile thrill-seeker, these days she courts disaster of a different variety wrangling a spirited toddler, honing her vegan baking skills, and chasing the ever-elusive work-family balance. She teaches Pilates and does fascial bodywork, and lives in Rhinebeck with Coraline, a cat named Otie, and Sushi the Fish (named, of course, by the toddler).

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