Antibiotics link to obesity

Doctors have long been wary of children building up a resistance to antibiotics. But a new study has provided another incentive for keeping the prescription pad in the physician’s pocket: the risk of obesity, said USA Today. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania recently reviewed the health records of 64,580 children, almost 70 percent of whom had been given antibiotics before age 2, receiving an average of 2.3 courses. By age 5, those who had been given only a couple of courses during their early years had the same risk of obesity as those who received none, but kids who were treated with four or more courses were 11 percent more likely to be obese. Furthermore, those who had had multiple courses of more powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics were 16 percent more likely to gain weight. Penn professor Charles Bailey, who led the study, believes that the antibiotics are killing off natural bacteria in the stomach that help keep weight in check. He admits that the risks of obesity are small and that antibiotics are probably just one of many factors that contribute to weight gain, but he says the link may highlight an important “piece of the puzzle.”