Taking antibiotics or anti-acid drugs before the age of 2 is associated with an increased risk of obesity later in life.
The link between obesity and our gut microbiota has been demonstrated. Recently, US researchers have even discovered its underlying biological mechanism. However, some medications, such as antibiotics and acid inhibitors, can alter the type and volume of bacteria in the gut.
A study of more than 300,000 infants
Researchers have discovered that taking these drugs in early childhood increases the risk of obesity. The results of their study were published in the British Medical Journal. For their research, scientists examined the medications prescribed to 333,353 infants during their first two years of life, whose medical records were in the US military health system database between 2006 and 2013.
A total of 241,502 (72.5%) children took an antibiotic, 39,488 (just under 12%) an antihistamine and 11,089 (just over 3%) a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) which reduces the production of gastric acidity. Finally, 5,868 children were prescribed these three drugs during the first two years of their lives.
An increased risk of obesity of 26% after taking antibiotics
The results showed, after taking into account potentially influential factors, that a prescription of antibiotics or antacids is associated with an increased risk of obesity of 26% from the age of 3, which is the mean age at which obesity was first identified in these children. This association is reinforced with each additional antibiotic prescription, whatever its class. In total, just over 14% of children became obese, or 46,993 children.
Acid inhibitors have also been associated with an increased risk of obesity but to a lesser extent. An association that strengthens after each month of prescription.
An observational study
Although this is a large study, it remains an observational study and further research will be needed to truly establish this link. In addition, potentially influential information, such as the mothers' weight of the children and the fact that they smoke or suffer from other pathologies, were not available. In addition, the researchers point out that the links between the individual, the environment and obesity are complex, highlighting the "current difficulty in drawing clear conclusions about the interaction between the history of exposure, the intestinal microbiota and the propensity to develop obesity. "
"Microbiota-modifying drugs have a critical therapeutic role, and long-term health risks need to be weighed against short-term benefits," they add. However, the researchers point out that over-prescription of antibiotics and anti-acid drugs, including in young children, is "an important problem".