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Editorial
January 22, 2020

Is Early-Life Antibiotic Exposure Associated With Obesity in Children?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Developmental Origins of Chronic Diseases in Children Network, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • 2Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Indiana University, Bloomington
JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1919694. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19694

Interest in the microbiome and its role in the developmental origins of obesity has increased substantially in the past decade, prompting multiple studies on early-life antibiotic exposures and childhood obesity. In addition to 20 previous studies on this topic, reviewed recently by Baron et al,1 there are 2 new reports using prescription records to assess antibiotic exposures in New Zealand: a prospective cohort study of 5128 children by Chelimo et al2 and a retrospective national study of 284 211 mothers and children by Leong et al.3 Both studies found dose-dependent associations between early antibiotic exposure (prenatally or during the first 1-2 years of life) and body mass index or obesity at age 4 to 5 years. However, when Leong et al3 restricted their analysis to siblings and twins, they found no significant association, suggesting that the association between antibiotics and obesity may be due to unmeasured confounding factors that are shared within families.

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    1 Comment for this article
    Antibiotics increase weight in animals
    David Egilman |
    We feed young pigs, turkeys and chickens antibiotics to enhance weight gain. Seems reasonable to have the same thing happen in childen.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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