News article

Recent study: Antibiotic usage in infancy can make one obese as an adult

Posted:  Thursday, September 11, 2014

A recent US study has indicated that early use of antibiotics in infancy could be one of the reasons for piling on those unsightly pounds as an adult.

The study, published in the latest issue of Cell, found that mice exposed to antibiotics as pups led to a change in their metabolism and adiposity. This study backs a previous human study which showed that children below 6 months of age on antibiotic therapy were overweight at 7 years of age.

The study found that antibiotics, when used in infancy disrupt the gut microbial balance. Changes in the gut microbial environment seem to activate body’s inflammatory response leading to weight gain. Although the effect of antibiotics may be transient, the study indicates that antibiotic use may have long term implications.

Talking about the research, lead author Martin Blaser from NYU Langone Medical Centre said, “We identified infancy as a critical window where host metabolism is particularly vulnerable to microbiota disruption due to antibiotics. This highlights the need for judicious use for antibiotics in clinical practice in early in life”.

The researchers are further investigating to identify the specific bacteriae involved in maintaining metabolic equilibrium. Once identified, restoring these bacteria among infants undergoing antibiotic therapy may be possible.

Highly underrated, gut micro-flora is usually studied in relation to gastrointestinal health. Numerous researchers have identified many beneficial roles essayed by these microscopic gut inhabitants. The present study throws light on the importance of gut micro-organisms in not only maintaining gut health but also in shaping host metabolism.





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Daily News: Disease

Research: Babies on antibiotics have higher obesity risk

Guardian (UK)


Long courses of antibiotics may put babies and toddlers at higher risk of obesity when they grow up, according to US researchers.

Low doses of penicillin early in life can alter populations of gut microbes, which in turn may affect metabolism and lead to higher rates of obesity later in life, the scientists said. The findings emerged from experiments in mice, but build on earlier work that found children who had antibiotics before six months of age were more likely to be overweight as seven-year-olds.

"This is part of a growing body of evidence that antibiotics have a biological cost," said Martin Blaser, a microbiologist who led the study at New York University.

Mice that had antibiotics for the first month of life were 25% heavier than controls, according to the study published in the journal Cell. Ian Sample

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