Probably you have never thought that a possible side effect of antibiotic use in childhood could be obesity, but that is what recent studies are revealing.
This makes some sense when you realize that farmers worldwide add low dose antibiotics to their animal feed, since animals fed these antibiotics become fatter, leading to better profits. This might be great for the farmers, but not so good for the rest of us.
These antibiotics make fatter cattle and chicken because the antibiotics disrupt the natural ecology of the bacteria in the animals’ guts, disrupting their normal patterns of food absorption and metabolism such that they gain weight.
Recent studies are showing the same thing might be happening, unfortunately, to our young children who are given antibiotics at an early age.
A study published in the International Journal of Obesity , looked at over 11,000 children in the UK. The study found that children exposed to antibiotics during their first six months of life were significantly heavier at ages 10 months to 38 months. Overall, children who were given antibiotics at an early age had a 22% chance of being overweight.
A second study published 21 August 2014 in the same journal came to the same conclusion. This study found that boys given antibiotics during their first year of life were significantly heavier even at 8 years of age, long after the use of the antibiotics.
The third study, published 14 August 2014 in the journal Cell, was carried out in mice— because it is much easier to experiment in animals— and here researchers gave half the infant mice penicillin, and the other half no antibiotics, and measured fat composition as the mice grew into adults.
The conclusions matched the other research studies, and in this animal study it was seen that there were actual changes in how the genes in the cells were “expressed”. Dr. Martin Blaser, of New York University Medical Center, one of the study authors, concluded “early-life antibiotic exposure can lead to lifelong metabolic changes.”
A fetus in the mother’s womb is sterile, free of bacteria on its skin or gut. One of the benefits of the vaginal birth process is that the baby is “inoculated” or coated with millions of natural bacteria from the mother’s vagina; a good and healthy process. We all live with trillions of bacteria on our skin and intestines (the bacteria that inhabit our bodies outnumber our cells by a factor of 10), and scientists now understand the importance of these bacteria to keep our immune system and metabolism running normally.
Antibiotics can truly be miraculous, but many public health experts are warning of the serious public health consequences of using antibiotics when they are not necessary. These studies on childhood antibiotic use and obesity should reinforce both for the public and for doctors, that antibiotics should be only used when clinically appropriate.
Read also in ProcuraMed:
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)