Early Childhood Development May Be Altered by Multiple Antibiotic Use

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Marji_020715A recent study published in the open journal Nature Communication concluded that the use of multiple antibiotics in early childhood might lead to weight gain, increased bone growth, and altered gut bacteria.

Previous studies have linked early exposure to antibiotics and an increased risk of obesity in early childhood and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. However, most of these studies examined how low-dose multiple antibiotic use affected animals—humans typically receive multiple antibiotics at higher dosages. To get a better understanding of the effects of multiple high-dose antibiotic usages, the team at NYU Langone Medical Center mimicked childhood antibiotics within mice.

Young female mice were given three short courses of amoxicillin and tylosin, which are similar to the class of antibiotics that are given to children. The mice were given the same dose of prescriptions that a child typically receives during the first two years of their life. This group of mice was compared with a group that didn’t receive antibiotics.

The mice that were treated with one or both of the antibiotics experienced weight gain and developed larger bones; the antibiotics also disrupted the gut microbiome—bacteria that reside in the intestinal tract.

Researchers discovered that the gut microbiome in the mice that received antibiotics had a lower capability to adapt to changes in environment (i.e. switching from a standard diet to a high-fat diet). The researchers concluded that it is still unclear whether the alterations to gut bacteria are associated with increased weight gain and bone growth, especially since the results were identified in mice and not humans.

In 2011, 262 million courses of antibiotics were prescribed to outpatients in the U.S. Antibiotic use is highest in children under 10 years old, with the average American child receiving three courses of antibiotics by age two and 10 courses by age 10.

Source for Today’s Article:
Whiteman, H., “Child development may be affected by early antibiotic use, study finds,” Medical News Today web site, July 1, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/296046.php.