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Common antibiotic makes children more prone to obesity, asthma: study

Common antibiotic makes children more prone to obesity, asthma: study - Featured Image

A study has found a common antibiotic could make children more predisposed to becoming overweight and developing asthma.

The macrolides class of antibiotics, useful for treating lung and chest infections are used as an alternative for people who are allergic to penicillin.

A Finnish study, published in Nature Communications, examined changes in microbiota and incidence of disease in 142 children over a six-month period and supported theories that certain antibiotics early in life can have negative effects on health.

Related: Long courses, confusion and culture: why we’re losing the fight against antibiotic resistance

Willem de Vos and colleagues analysed the faecal microbiotia of children aged two to seven years old. They found that the use of macrolide antibiotics, but not penicillins, is associated with marked changes in gut microbiota composition that persist for over six months.

Previous studies on adults and mice have seen similar changes in microbiota that have been associated with increased risk of developing obesity and immune-related diseases.

“Among the children who received macrolides in early life, we find a positive correlation between overall lifetime antibiotic use and body mass index (BMI), as well as an increased risk of asthma, suggesting that macrolide use may alter the microbiota in infants in a way that predisposes to antibiotic-associated weight gain and asthma in later childhood,” the authors wrote.

Although more research is needed, the authors conclude: “our results support the idea that, without compromising clinical practice, the impact on the intestinal microbiota should be considered when prescribing antibiotics.”

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