Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Leong KSW, McLay J, Derraik JGB, et al. Associations of Prenatal and Childhood Antibiotic Exposure With Obesity at Age 4 Years. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(1):e1919681. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.19681
Is antibiotic exposure during pregnancy and/or during early childhood associated with the development of childhood obesity?
This cross-sectional national study of 284 211 participants (132 852 mothers and 151 359 children) in New Zealand found that both prenatal and early childhood exposures to antibiotics were independently associated with obesity at age 4 years in a dose-dependent manner. However, fixed-effects analyses of siblings and twins with discordant outcomes showed no associations between antibiotic exposure and obesity.
Although judicious use of antibiotics is necessary, antibiotics are unlikely to be a major contributor to childhood obesity.
Although antibiotics are associated with obesity in animal models, the evidence in humans is conflicting.
To assess whether antibiotic exposure during pregnancy and/or early childhood is associated with the development of childhood obesity, focusing particularly on siblings and twins.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This cross-sectional national study included 284 211 participants (132 852 mothers and 151 359 children) in New Zealand. Data analyses were performed for 150 699 children for whom data were available, 30 696 siblings, and 4188 twins using covariate-adjusted analyses, and for 6249 siblings and 522 twins with discordant outcomes using fixed-effects analyses. Data analysis was performed November 2017 to March 2019.
Exposure to antibiotics during pregnancy and/or early childhood.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The main outcome is odds of obesity at age 4 years. Anthropometric data from children born between July 2008 and June 2011 were obtained from the B4 School Check, a national health screening program that records the height and weight of 4-year-old children in New Zealand. These data were linked to antibiotics (pharmaceutical records) dispensed to women before conception and during all 3 trimesters of pregnancy and to their children from birth until age 2 years.
The overall study population consisted of 132 852 mothers and 151 359 children (77 610 [51.3%] boys) who were aged 4 to 5 years when their anthropometrical measurements were assessed. Antibiotic exposure was common, with at least 1 course dispensed to 35.7% of mothers during pregnancy and 82.3% of children during the first 2 years of life. Results from covariate-adjusted analyses showed that both prenatal and early childhood exposures to antibiotics were independently associated with obesity at age 4 years, in a dose-dependent manner. Every additional course of antibiotics dispensed to the mothers yielded an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of obesity in their children (siblings) of 1.02 (95% CI, 0.99-1.06), which was similar to the odds across pregnancy for the whole population (aOR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.04-1.07). For the child’s exposure, the aOR for the association between antibiotic exposure and obesity was 1.04 (95% CI, 1.03-1.05) among siblings and 1.05 (95% CI, 1.02-1.09) among twins. However, fixed-effects analyses of siblings and twins showed no associations between antibiotic exposure and obesity, with aORs of 0.95 (95% CI, 0.90-1.00) for maternal exposure, 1.02 (95% CI, 0.99-1.04) for child’s exposure, and 0.91 (95% CI, 0.81-1.02) for twins’ exposure.
Conclusions and Relevance
Although covariate-adjusted analyses demonstrated an association between antibiotic exposure and odds of obesity, further analyses of siblings and twins with discordant outcomes showed no associations. Thus, these discordant results likely reflect unmeasured confounding factors.
Create a personal account or sign in to: